Vol 3, PW 6 (14 Apr 99) People & Policy

Maharashtra, too, is preparing for political drama in the months ahead, with state elections tentatively scheduled for December, which could see the ouster of the present Shiv Sena-BJP alliance and its Deputy Chief Minister, Gopinath Munde.

Also Minister of Energy, Munde is the third most powerful politician in Maharashtra after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackery, and Chief Minister, Narayan Rane. Munde is also interior minister.

As Minister of Energy, he is in regular contact with foreign multinationals and his reputation is no different to that of other politicians in India. According to one source, ever since he came to power in 1995 on the back of the Shiv Sena-BJP victory in Maharashtra, Munde has developed a reputation for carrying suitcase loads of cash as reward for deals done.

One famous remark attributed to Munde is that he once said Congress had 40 years in which to make money whereas, we (BJP) dont have that much time. With state elections in Maharashtra approaching, intense pressure is on for Munde to raise funds for what is expected to be a bitter election campaign.

In the run-up, foreign multinationals can expect increasing demands for cash. Munde is not perceived to be close to any particular industrial house - unlike his brother-in-law, Pramod Mahajan, the Minister for Information & Broadcasting, widely accepted as Reliance's key contact in the BJP government.

However, the fact that Munde is married to Mahajans sister illustrates his power and ability to get things done.