The Shiv Sena on Friday put the final nail in the coffin of Manohar Joshi's political career by announcing that BMC standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale would contest the Lok Sabha polls on a Sena ticket from Joshi's traditional Mumbai South-central seat.
Shewale is the chairman of the all-powerful BMC standing committee and is known to be a big-time fund-raiser for the party.
Joshi, a former Lok Sabha speaker and veteran Sena leader, rubbed Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray the wrong way a couple of months ago when he publicly criticised Thackeray's leadership qualities. The Sena chief maintained a dignified silence then, but hit back at Joshi at the right time.
In fact, Thackeray was never quite fond of Joshi because of his son's links with MNS chief Raj Thackeray. Joshi's son is Raj's business partner. Joshi had almost begged Thackeray to give him a ticket to contest at least from Kalyan. But his request was summarily rejected.
Indications are Joshi might gravitate towards the NCP, which is led by his old friend Sharad Pawar, or contest as a Sena rebel.
Currently Congress' Eknath Gaikwad, a Dalit, represents Mumbai South-central. But there is a wave of resentment within the Congress against him. He might be replaced by former planning commission member and noted Dalit intellectual Bhalchandra Mungekar.
Former MLC and MTNL union leader Arvind Sawant (Sena) will contest against Union minister of state Milind Deora (Cong) in South Mumbai. The Sena has replaced MPs Anand Paranjape (Kalyan) and Ganeshrao Dudhgaonkar (Parbhani) with Kopri-Pachpakhadi MLA Eknath Shinde's son Dr Shrikant and MLA Sanjay (Bandu) Jadhav respectively. Though Paranjape is a sitting Sena MP, he will contest from Kalyan as an NCP candidate.
In South Mumbai, the MNS factor will play a crucial role as it did in the 2009 elections when its MLA Bala Nandgaonkar split anti-Congress votes in a big way. It is learnt that since the MNS has the potential to damage the prospects of Sena-BJP alliance nominees, the BJP is trying to persuade Raj Thackeray not to field any candidate for the LS polls and in return the BJP will help the MNS in the assembly elections.
In Mumbai North-west, the fight will be between sitting MP Gurudas Kamat (Cong) and Sena's Gajanan Kirtikar and AAP's Mayank Gandhi. In Mumbai North-east too it will be a triangular contest between sitting MP Sanjay Patil (NCP) and Kirit Somaiya (BJP) and Medha Patkar (AAP). Patil is also president of the NCP's Mumbai unit.
Poonam Mahajan, daughter of slain BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, was aspiring for this seat, but eventually the ticket went to Somaiya, who has represented this seat in the past.
The Sena contests 22 of Maharashtra's 48 seats. In the Sena's first list of candidates released on Friday, sitting MPs Anandrao Adsul (Buldhana), Bhawana Gawli Surve (Yavatmal- Washim), Chandrakant Khaire (Aurangabad), Prataprao Jadhav (Buldhana), Subhashrao Wankhede (Hingoli), Anant Gite (Raigad-Ratnagiri), Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil (Shirur) have been repeated.
Other nominees include Krupal Tumane (Ramtek), MLA Rajan Vichare (Thane) and Gajanan Kirtikar (Mumbai North-west). Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's confidant Vinayak Raut will take on industries minister Narayan Rane's son and Ratnagiri-Sindhdurg MP Nilesh (Cong).