The body of BJP leader and Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a road accident in Delhi, reached Mumbai this evening. The special plane carrying the body, accompanied by Munde's relatives and party members, landed at the domestic airport here. The body was taken to 'Poorna' building in Worli, Munde's residence here.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, BJP MP Hema Malini and NCP leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Praful Patel visited Munde's residence to pay respects. The body will be later kept at the state BJP office in south Mumbai to enable people pay respects to the departed leader.
It would be flown to Latur in central Maharashtra tomorrow morning. From Latur, the body will be taken to Parali in Beed district (Munde's Lok Sabha constituency), around 70 km from Latur. Munde family hails from Nathra village near Parali. The funeral is expected to take place at around 4.30 pm in the premises of a sugar factory founded by Munde near Parali tomorrow, party sources said.
Senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Maharashtra without Munde was just "unthinkable". "We just cannot believe that Gopinath Munde is no more with us," he told PTI outside Munde's residence.
Rudy was among many BJP leaders who visited Munde's residence to pay last respects to the departed leader. Rudy said Munde's body will be kept in the party's Mumbai headquarters all night for people who want to pay their last respects.
"At 7 AM, Munde's body will be flown in an Indian Air Force plane from Kalina airport to Latur from where an IAF helicopter will take the body to Munde's native place in Parli where he will be cremated in full state honours," Rudy said. Leaders cutting across the political spectrum made a beeline to pay tribute to Munde.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, party leader Ramdas Kadam, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, R R Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, and Praful Patel (all NCP), Ramdas Athawale (RPI-A) paid their last respects to Munde. Senior BJP leaders Vinod Tawde, Eknath Khadse, Devendra Phadnavis, Ashish Shelar, Kirit Somaiya also paid their last respects to Munde.
Former union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde was among the prominent Congress leaders who paid their tribute. Bollywood personalities like Hema Malini, who is also a BJP MP, actors Ritesh Deshmukh and Raju Shrivastav also paid their respects to Munde.