Former chief minister Manohar Joshi’s intention to contest the vice-presidential election on behalf of the Shiv Sena has disappointed the anti-Joshi faction in the party.
Members of this faction , who requested anonymity, said Joshi did not have the moral right to contest for the country’s second highest post. Social activists and others have also opposed Joshi’s candidature. Joshi has been slammed by the Supreme Court for handing over prime government land, reserved for a primary school, to his son-in-law Girish Vyas in 1998 to construct a housing complex.
The court bench consisting Justice R V Raveendran and H L Gokhale clearly stated that the former CM had failed to discharge his duties and had let down the people of the city and state. The court termed the matter as a breach of public trust and said that it is unfortunate that a person claiming to be an educationist took interest in releasing a plot duly reserved and acquired for a primary school, for the benefit of his son-in-law.
The court had imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Joshi and asked Vyas to surrender his claim on the 10-storied building constructed on the disputed land.
Under the condition of anonymity, a leader of the anti-Joshi faction in the Shiv Sena said, “How a person, who has been stripped by the Supreme Court, stand for the second highest post? His act is not only a breach of trust to Punekars, but also to the children who have been deprived of basic primary education.
We are unhappy that our party has considered him for the post of vice president.” Shiv Sena MLC and state spokesperson Dr Neelam Gorhe said, “It is a cowardly act by our party men in Pune to protest by keeping oneself unknown. He should come forward and speak to party chief Balasaheb Thackeray or to me. It is wrong to maintain anonymity and comment. Everyone in the party has a right to criticise and they should do so officially.”
Vijay Kumbhar, president, Surajya Sangharsha Samiti and RTI activist, fought a 13-year-long legal battle against Joshi’s son-in-law to have the land relinquished and recently won. He said, “He (Joshi) is not good enough for such a prestigious election. It is sad that the Shiv Sena has granted him permission to contest. This will spread the wrong message in society about politics,” Kumbhar said.