Dhaval Kulkarni @dhavalkulkarni
Expelled Shiv Sena leader Mohan Rawle, the party’s longest-serving Lok Sabha MP, has said that the lack of progress on a memorial to the Sena supremo late Bal Thackeray showed the party’s weakening influence in public affairs.
“It is shameful that we have been unable to get land (for the memorial) despite the Shiv Sena being in power in the BMC. This shows how weak the party has become... it should have been aggressive for the sake of Balasaheb,” said Rawle, who was stripped of the primary membership of the party on Monday.
Rawle, who had criticised Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership and said that the party was being run by a coterie headed by his controversial personal assistant Milind Narvekar, refused to comment on reports that he might join Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
“I have not decided anything... only time will tell,” Rawle said. It has been reported that he may contest the Lok Sabha election from South Mumbai on the MNS ticket.
“I am Balasaheb’s sainik, I am loyal to him and I will work according to his ideals,” said Rawle, who was once a boxer and gained favour with Bal Thackeray as his personal bodyguard.
As a young party worker, Rawle was also picked to head the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), the student wing of the Shiv Sena. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1991 and was MP five times. In 2009, he lost to Milind Deora of the Congress and came out third behind Bala Nandgaonkar of the MNS.
“I met Raj Thackeray for personal work,” Rawle said about his meeting with the MNS chief that had set the rumour mills going. He also said a number of Sena leaders were in touch with Raj.
Rawle argued that in spite of criticising Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on issues like farmer suicides, the Sena had chosen to “prostrate” itself before him, asking him to head the all-party committee for a memorial for the Sena chief.
Rawle also blamed Narwekar for the exit of Raj from the Sena and other veterans Bhaskar Jadhav, Narayan Rane and Pradeep Jaiswal. “Balasaheb himself had asked for Narwekar to be expelled...
in a meeting of Sena leaders, Balasaheb said that he was running the Sena into the ground,” Rawle said, and added that Narwekar’s nomination for the legislative council was nixed by the Sena supremo.
Rawle also mentioned that while he had been removed from the party for criticising Narwekar, senior leader Manohar Joshi was allowed to stay back after a public apology for criticising Uddhav.
“I am not disgruntled over being denied a nomination (to contest the Lok Sabha polls),” Rawle said, but explained that he was upset that he was being sidelined and was not consulted on party matters.