Munde dies in car crash, Maharashtra uncertain

Tags: News

The 64-year old apparently died of shock after accident

In a sudden and unexpected blow to the BJP and the new Modi government, the party’s senior-most leader in Maharashtra and its OBC face in the state, Union rural development minister, Gopinath Munde, died in a car accident on his way to airport in the early hours on Tuesday.

Munde, 64, apparently died of shock and cardiac arrest suffered after the crash. His car was hit by a vehicle at the Prithviraj road-Tughlak road roundabout in New Delhi. Brother-in-law of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, Munde is survived by his wife and three daughters, one of whom is an MLA from Parli in Maharashtra’s Beed district.

Munde was on his way to the airport and was expected to attend a victory celebration at Beed, his parliamentary constituency. A state funeral will be accorded to the rural development minister and the national flag will be flown half mast on Wednesday. The government also cancelled all official functions on Tuesday.

Munde’s mortal remains were brought to the BJP headquarters from AIIMS where several leaders including prime minister, Narendra Modi and Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi paid tributes. Munde’s family members, his wife, two daughters and son-in-law, rushed to Delhi on hearing the news. Incidentally, Rahul Gandhi is the first top Congress leader, who went to the BJP headquarters to offer tribute to a leading political figure.

The prime minister condoled the sudden demise in the social media. “Extremely saddened & shocked by the demise of my friend & colleague Gopinath Munde ji. His demise is a major loss for the nation & the govt,’’ he stated.

Munde’s body was flown by an IAF transport aircraft to Mumbai at 4 pm, where it will be kept for a day and then taken to Beed where cremation will take place on Wednesday. Cabinet ministers, including the prime minister, are expected to attend the cremation.

The driver of the car, identified as Gurvinder Singh, was apprehended and later released on bail.

Munde’s vehicle Maruti Suzuki SX4 was hit by an Indica, which allegedly jumped the traffic signal at Aurobindo Chowk. Munde was traveling towards Safdarjung road from Prithviraj road around 6.20 am. The minister was in the backseat when the Indica which was going towards Tughlak Road, hit it from the side. Munde was rushed to AIIMS around 6.30 am and declared dead around 7.30 am.

Munde’s secretary S Nair, who was in the car, said the minister received a huge shock after the accident and apparently suffered a massive heart attack. A special cabinet meeting convened Tuesday evening to mourn Munde’s death passed a resolution to place on record its appreciation of his services to the nation in different capacities both at the state and national levels.

Munde’s sudden demise came as a rude shock to the Modi government, which had taken charge only on May 26. He was expected to play a crucial role during the forthcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra.

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