Mohan Rawale, once known as a dashing, firebrand leader from south-central Mumbai, faced the wrath of his party’s leadership and was expelled yesterday for his harsh comments against the party.
Over the last few years, particularly after 2009, his presence in party events had been minimal and he had receded into the background. He was rarely seen at party meetings, strengthening doubts that he was not in touch with Sena’s new leadership under Uddhav Thackeray. Speculations had begun gaining ground that he was sulking over the treatment he was being meted out by Thackeray junior.
On Monday, Rawale called the Shiv Sena “a party of middlemen” and was particularly critical of party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s personal assistant Milind Narvekar. “I was denied appointments with Uddhav Thackeray for the last four years. This was not the party we have seen and worked for,” said the sulking leader.
He won five Lok Sabha elections in a row from south-central Mumbai from 1991 to 2004. This constituency, now a part of the South Mumbai Lok Sabha seat, was known as a bastion of Leftists. The former chief of Shiv Sena’s student wing, Bhartiya Vidyarthi Sena, from 1979 to 1984, was known for controversies, but made inroads into the textile hub of Mumbai, which was then the citadel of communists.
His decision to hold a sit-in agitation over the arrest of Arun Gawli, underworld don-turned-politician, had surprised many in Mumbai. His absence in the Lok Sabha, when the Congress government led by P V Narasimha Rao survived a no-confidence vote, was also the topic of many debates. He sought to clear the air by claiming that he was indisposed. He was highly criticised for his presence when the official residence of the then leader of Opposition Chhagan Bhujbal was attacked by Shiv Saina party workers in 1997.
But Rawale was also a friendly face among party workers from his constituency, as he was available at local shakhas regularly. Despite reservations about his working style among the Shiv Sena leaders, he was nominated by Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray to contest the crucial south-central Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency.
Sena spokesman and MP Sanjay Raut announced Rawale’s expulsion during a media briefing. But it comes as no surprise to him. “The decision was expected since I was targeting Narvekar. People like him will finish the party, as the leadership wants a person like Narvekar and not the lakhs of Shiv Sainiks who toiled hard for the party. It was not the same organisation that had grown exponentially under the leadership of Balasaheb Thackeray,” he said.
He further said about Narvekar, “This man has given a lot of pain to our Balasaheb, who thwarted attempts to nominate him on the State Legislative Council.” Rawale also objected to Sena’s decision to approach NCP chief Sharad Pawar for the memorial of late Thackeray. “You blame him (Pawar) for farmer suicides in Vidarbha region. After approaching him for the memorial, the Sena has no right to criticise him any more,” said a belligerent Rawale who, on November 22, met Uddhav’s cousin, MNS chief Raj Thackeray.