Soon after Pritam’s support for wrestlers, her elder sister, Pankaja Munde, issued a statement saying that “I belong to BJP, but BJP does not belong to me”.
Pankaja’s statement triggered speculations that the Munde sisters were unhappy with the BJP leadership, both at the Centre and the state.
Pritam’s statement in support of the protesting wrestlers came at a press conference in Beed on Wednesday night. When she was asked about her stand on the ongoing protest by the wrestlers in the national capital, she said, “Not as an MP, but as a woman, I definitely feel that whenever there is any complaint of such a serious nature, immediate cognizance should be taken.”
It has been more than a month that the group of wrestlers have been protesting in New Delhi, demanding action against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment. In the past month, several opposition parties have extended support to the wrestlers. On Wednesday, Pritam Munde became the first BJP leader to issue a statement in their support.
“If cognizance (of the complaint) is not taken, it will not be a welcome move in democracy. I feel that appropriate people should take necessary action and truth should be revealed,” the MP from Beed added.
Within a few hours of Pritam’s statement, Pankaja issued her statement on Thursday. Sharing a stage with Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) chief Mahadev Jankar, Pankaja referred to him as her brother. She said, “If I face any problem at my father’s (late senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra deputy CM Gopinath Munde), I will go to my brother’s (Jankar) house.”
This is not the first time that the Munde sisters and their supporters’ unhappiness towards BJP has come to fore. In 2021, when Pritam did not get a ministerial berth during the expansion of the cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, around 20 taluka presidents of BJP from Beed had resigned. In 2022, she said the Union government should withdraw its decision of doing away with certain scholarships, including the one named after Maulana Abul Kalam Azad meant for the minorities.
TOI tried to contact Pritam Munde over the phone. But despite repeated attempts, she could not be reached for her comments on the issue.
Following the Munde sisters’ statements, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said, “BJP does not consider the Munde family as its member. “It was Gopinath Munde who had taken all the efforts to raise the party to the highest level in the state. But now efforts are on in the state and New Delhi to erase the Munde family’s presence in Maharashtra politics.”
Raut said, “If anyone has to continue to be in politics, they will have to make some tough decisions. People who cannot take tough calls should retire from politics.”