Is Manohar Joshi, 77, going the LK Advani way in the Shiv Sena?
For the past few days there have been indications that Rahul Shewale, 40, chairman of the all-powerful standing committee in the BMC may be fielded as the party’s candidate in the South-central Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency.
Upset over this, Joshi, who is a former chief minister, went to “Matoshree” at Bandra on Wednesday to stake his claim to the seat from where he was elected in 1999 and lost in 2004.
While Joshi claimed after the meeting that the party is still to decide on the candidature, sources confirmed that no one in the Shiv Sena would dare to put up such huge posters in South-central Mumbai constituency (as Shewale had done recently) without a nod from party president Uddhav Thackeray.
It is learnt that Uddhav is upset with Joshi since the latter’s son, Unmesh, is a partner of MNS chief Raj Thackeray in the real estate business. Significantly, there are indications that the Sena may field trade union leader Arvind Sawant from South Mumbai even though the BJP has staked its claim to this prestigious seat.
“I discussed it with the party chief. He has assured me that no decision about the candidature from South-central Mumbai constituency has been taken,” Joshi said.
“However, I have suggested to Uddhav Thackeray that while South-central Mumbai constituency is my own home ground, I am willing to contest even from Kalyan or Thane,” Joshi said while talking to reporters outside Matoshree.
Joshi had a two-hour meeting with Thackeray. Interestingly, Shewale joined the meeting towards the end.
Thackeray told dna on Wednesday: “We’ll choose maximum young faces for the general elections.”
Joshi, one of the most senior leaders in Sena, was upset since Shewale had put up huge posters and banners all over the South-central Mumbai constituency during the recent Ganesh festival, including in the lane at Shivaji Park where Joshi lives.
“The party wants young faces in the election and Shewale was given the go ahead by Thackeray himself. He has been asked to prepare for the ensuing elections. Also, Shewale makes an ideal candidate to give a tough fight to Eknath Gaikwad, sitting Congress MP from the constituency,” a Sena source said.
He claimed that Joshi does not enjoy a good rapport with the party cadre in his own constituency and is very unpopular. Apart from losing the elections in his own constituency, he could not even hold the Sena bastion Dadar in the civic elections where all six seats in the Dadar-Mahim area were won by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
“He has enjoyed almost all prominent posts in the party, BMC, state and even at the Centre. What more does he want. Instead, he could have been a resourceful leader, guiding youth Sainiks,” a Sena worker said.