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Munde scotches exit rumours, vows to remain in BJP

Mumbai: Scotching rumours of his attempts to join Congress, senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde on Thursday said he would continue to remain in the party.

"Neither was Congress in contact with me nor was I in touch with Congress. There is no question of me joining Congress," the BJP`s deputy leader in Lok Sabha told reporters after arriving from Delhi this afternoon.

"I have brought lakhs of workers into BJP fold and moulded them. I was in BJP, am in BJP and will be in BJP.

People have now realised the worth of those who tried to corner me," he said.

Munde said he would undertake a statewide tour and communicate with party workers. "I will inspire them because they are in anguish. All BJP workers will now come together and strengthen the party in the state," he said.

"It is also not true that (while in Delhi), I met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. Neither did I meet Ahmed Patel (political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi). I have never met Patel in my life. Some people tried to defame me by spreading these rumours," he said.

Munde, who was sulking for over a fortnight after his supporter was sidelined for the post of Pune BJP chief and party chief Nitin Gadkari`s loyalist was brought in, said, "I think the real face of those who tried to malign me has been exposed to people of Maharashtra."

"I have never sought any post from the party leadership," Munde said when asked about reports that he had demanded that he be made in-charge of state affairs.

To the insinuation in media about his old friend and Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh scuttling his `entry` into Congress, Munde said it was wrong to attribute any malice "between 6th floor and 12th floor". (While Munde`s house is on 12th floor of Poorna building in Worli sea face area, Deshmukh stays on the 6th floor of the same building).

"We are old friends and I don`t believe any of these reports," he said. "Neither will Deshmukh harm me, nor will I damage him," he added.

Meanwhile, taking potshots at Munde`s "apparent dalliance" with Congress, MNS chief Raj Thackeray said the BJP leader did not join Congress as he did not get a "good offer" from that party.

"There is no doubt that Munde is a tall leader.

Someone who is senior due to age and experience. One fails to understand why he did what he did," Raj told reporters in Aurangabad.

"He was not satisfied after meeting someone like Advani, but was satisfied after meeting Sushma Swaraj. What kind of satisfaction is this," Raj said.

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