Munde, the third of farmer Pandurang Mundes five children, was born to a Vanjari family in Nathra village on December 12, 1949. The Vanjaris are traditionally traders, but Munde, a known risk taker, had other plans.
His earliest political role was as a student leader at Arts and Commerce College in Ambejogai in Beed, where he earned his BCom degree and where, as he wrote on his blog, he played the role of kingmaker.
The Ambejogai years led to two important events in Mundes life, personal and political. It was here that he met Pramod Mahajan with whom he would go on develop a lifelong friendship and which later allowed him to have a virtual stranglehold on the functioning of the BJP in Maharashtra. The other event, his marriage to Mahajans sister Pradnya, pointed to Mundes doggedness. Munde, an OBC, married Pradnya, a Brahmin, despite facing a lot of opposition since caste biases run strong in Marathwada.
Mundes first major political victory came in 1980 when he was elected to the assembly. Mahajans rise in the BJP at the national level allowed Munde an almost unchallenged run in the state BJP. He was made party president of the state unit in 1986 and became leader of the opposition in the assembly in the early 1990s.
Munde, however, is best known for his ability to take on Sharad Pawar, then chief minister of Maharashtra. The open challenge to the Maratha leader almost led to the Congresss rout in 1995. It was Mundes high-pitched campaign questioning the alleged underworld links of Pawar that brought Munde on centre-stage in 1994-95. This was followed by the Sena-BJP coming to power in 1995. He also famously dared Pawar over the Enron power plant, saying the project was steeped in corruption and that it would be thrown into the sea if the Sena-BJP came to power. But after coming to power, Munde, who became deputy chief minister and also held charge of home and power, instead renegotiated the Enron deal.
Munde was also the target of Anna Hazares anti-corruption campaign, which seriously dented his image. Hazare released documents on the sale of an flat to one Barkha Gopinath Munde, said to be a Lavani dancer, and her son Pratik Gopinath Munde.
This poll, he retained his Beed seat. A week ago, he landed the plum portfolio of Ministry of Rural Development Yes, my heart is in rural Maharashtra. I am committed for its development, he said last week.