After its veteran leader Manohar Joshi looked down his nose at Shiv Sena’s feeble leadership, another challenge seems to be staring it in the eye.
Its ally Ramdas Athawale of Republican Party of India (Athawale) seems to be nurturing ambitions of contesting the general election from the Mumbai South Central seat, or in other words, Sena stronghold Dadar.
While talking to MiD DAY, Athawale said, “If I have to contest Lok Sabha elections, then it has to be from South Central Mumbai, because I have won previous elections from here and am sure to win the coming elections too.”
The Dadar ticket seems to have become a political hot potato for Shiv Sena. Already the party is facing controversy over the seat. While BMC’s standing committee chairperson Rahul Shewale is being projected for the seat, Manohar Joshi, who represented the constituency earlier, is throwing a sulk to get it again. Now, Athawale is in the fray.
He justified his demand, stating the constituency consists of areas he has a grip on, such as Chembur, Anushakti Nagar and Dharavi. “These areas are under my belt, and I am sure of winning the elections if I contest from this constituency,” Athawalesaid.
Currently, the constituency comprising Dharavi, Dadar, Mahim,Anushakti Nagar and a few other areas is represented by Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad. There were reports earlier as well that Athawale had demanded this seat, but it was for the first time that he made a categorical and public statement about contesting from the seat.
In 1998, Athawale had defeated Joshi from this constituency, then referred to as Mumbai North-Central. After delimitation, it was dubbed South Central, with some of the constituencies from what was then South Central amalgamated within the new borders.
But Joshi seized the seat back from Athawale in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls. In the two subsequent elections, Gaikwad retained the seat, defeating Sena candidates Joshi (2004) and Suresh Gambhir (2009).
‘Or give me RS…’
Athawale also hinted that any danger of a revolt from him could be averted by the ‘Maha-Yuti’ (grand alliance) comprising Shiv Sena, BJP and RPI (A), if the coalition gives him a Rajya Sabha seat before the polls. “My party cadres are asking me to go to Rajya Sabha because they say if I contest Lok Sabha polls, I won’t be able to focus on the campaigning of other seats. If the BJP-Shiv Sena accommodates me in the upper house, I won’t contest the LS polls. If not, I will contest from this seat,” saidAthawale.
Advice for Joshi
About the Joshi fiasco, Athawale said the Sena leader should have avoided attending the Dussehra rally because everyone was aware of Joshi’s remark against the party top brass. “He should go and meet Uddhav and apologise to him. Being a senior leader, he should help him by guiding him on internal issues. Joshi should spend his last days in the party peacefully and in discipline,” Athawale said.