Set to party, hometown will now do last rites

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 04 Juni 2014 | 22.23

PARLI VAIJNATH (Beed): The stage had been set for Tuesday, 8pm - for a Vijay Utsav or victory rally at Gopinath Munde's hometown Parli in Beed district. The BJP strongman had not only won handsomely from Beed in the Lok Sabha polls but had got the significant rural development portfolio in the Modi Cabinet. Garlands and colourful phetas (traditional turbans) had been ordered, floodlights installed at the local Totla Maidan, firecrackers bought in plenty, and felicitation speeches for Munde perfected.

On Tuesday at 8pm, the stage was being altered for Munde's body to placed. News of his sudden death had come early in the day, and Parli was in shock. Munde was on his way to the Delhi airport to fly to his constituency to address the celebratory rally, when he met with an accident and died of internal injuries and other complications. Party workers who had worked tirelessly until late Monday night, preparing the stage for the Vijay Utsav, were now busy building a smaller stage, where Munde's body would be placed on Wednesday morning for people to pay their last respects. At 4pm, the body will be taken to Vidyanath sugar factory grounds on the town's outskirts for the last rites.

District superintendent of police, Navinchandra Reddy said, "We have made elaborate security arrangements.

Many VVIPs are expected on Wednesday morning." Munde had started his political career from this small town, 85km from Beed, and Totla Maidan was a critical venue for many rallies. Nilkanth Chate, a loyalist, said, "It is the same ground where Rajnath Singh had promised a cabinet berth to our leader, following which Munde had promised that after making it to the cabinet, he will accept his first public felicitation from the people of Parli." Chate broke down, saying their leader could not keep his promise.

Totla Maidan almost turned into Munde's shrine on Tuesday. Local women visited the ground, bowed with respect in front of the stage and touched it. Some even put flowers on it. "We don't know if we would be allowed this close to the stage on Wednesday, so we kept flowers today itself," one of them said.

Locals present at the ground said they woke up in anticipation of witnessing a major victory rally on Tuesday, hoped against hope that Munde's accident news was only a rumour, and rushed to Totla Maidan when news of his death came. Hundreds from Munde's birthplace, Nathra, about 20km from Parli, were among those who rushed to Parli on hearing the news.

His daughter Pankaja represents the Parli assembly seat.

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