Latur/Beed (Maharashtra), June 4 :
The body of senior BJP leader and union minister Gopinath Munde, who was killed in a road accident in New Delhi early Tuesday, was flown in to Latur from Mumbai Wednesday morning.
Thousands of mourners, including senior party leaders, activists and commoners received the coffin at Latur airport.
Earlier, the body was taken from the Mumbai residence of the Munde family, where security forces accorded a guard of honour, for the flight to Latur.
From Latur, it was taken by a special helicopter to Beed, which is around 65 km away, for the last rites.
The body will be kept for public homage at the sprawling Vaijnath Sugar Factory campus till around 2 p.m. before the last rites. The state government has announced a three-day mourning for Munde.
Munde’s eldest daughter and Parali legislator Pankaja Munde-Palve will perform the last rites at the state funeral being accorded to Munde. His wife is Pramod Mahajan’s sister and they have three daughters.
Top BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, other union ministers, Maharashtra political bigwigs, chief ministers of several states and party activists from all over the country are expected to attend the funeral.
Late Tuesday evening, Munde’s body was brought to Mumbai from Delhi and kept at his residence in Purna Building, Worli, where relatives, friends and close acquaintances besides VVIPs paid their last respects.
Ironically, it is the same building where his brother-in-law and former BJP strongman Pramod Mahajan was gunned down by his brother Pravin eight years ago.
Subsequently, Munde’s body was kept at the BJP state headquarters at Nariman Point in south Mumbai where party workers from Mumbai and surrounding areas paid homage.
Munde was scheduled to go to Beed Wednesday to address a series of victory rallies, his first visit to his home district after the BJP-led NDA swept to power last month.
Munde was born Dec 12, 1949, in Parali-Vaijnath village where he had his schooling.
Soon afterwards, he plunged into student politics along with BJP strongman and later his brother-in-law, late Pramod Mahajan, and was imprisoned during the Emergency of 1975-1977.
Over the years, Munde was elected five times as legislator in Maharashtra, then Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, deputy chief minister of the state, and subsequently as the deputy leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, and last week was made the union minister for rural development.