Pawar, Uddhav to share the stage on Joshi's birthday

After Supriya Sule's visit to Matoshree, NCP chief's presence at Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi's 75th birthday on Dec 2, right before civic polls, may get the rumour mills running

Even as daughter Supriya Sule's visit to Matoshree hasn't yet ceased fuelling political gossip mills, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is set to share the dais with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and his party's Rajya Sabha member Manohar Joshi.

Raising eyebrows? Supriya Sule last week paid a visit to Matoshree

Joshi's 75th birthday celebration to be held at Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi provides the milieu for this gathering.

While many have noted that the timing stands out a bit - civic polls are due in February and the forging of alliances is underway - others are happy to recall the hullabaloo that Joshi's 60th birthday caused, or rather the birthday present -- a necklace studded with 60 diamonds, with compliments from Sena supremo Bal Thackeray (see box).

But many believe that the guest list for the platinum jubilee -- CM Prithviraj Chavan, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and RPI chief Ramdas Athawale - gives them something to look forward at this birthday bash as well, when Joshi will also be feted with a memento by noted historian Babasaheb Purandare.

Pawar's presence may not raise many eyebrows, as many are aware of the rapport the two leaders have shared for years.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has also scheduled his presence at Rajya Sabha
MP Manohar Joshi's 75th birthday on December 2.

File Pics

"But the timing is certainly important (impending civic polls) as the NCP appears to be trying to cozy up to the Thackerays, what with Pawar's MP daughter's visit and now with his scheduled presence at Joshi's birthday," said a leader from Congress.

But if anything, the circumstance is all too familiar, for Sule's visit has a precedent in the not-so-distant past.
Back in 2009, Pawar had called on Matoshree a few months before the Lok Sabha elections, and it had unnerved the Congress.

Now, Sule has made the visit when seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the NCP are on ahead of the BMC election in February. The timing could be used as a pressure tactic by Pawar, opined  Congressmen.

Incidentally, on the occasion, as many as five books, including Joshi's autobiography will be released, sources close to the Sena said. Former MLA Vishakha Raut, who is the chairperson of the felicitation committee, said nothing should be read out aloud as the event is meant to be a social gathering of Joshi's friends and well-wishers.

Sparkling gift with 61 gems
This time around, Manohar Joshi's supporters hope to keep the glares away from his platinum jubilee birthday, unlike his controversy-riddled diamond in 1997. Attended by National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, ex-Goa CM Ramakant Khalap, BJP leader Gopinath Munde and actor Nana Patekar, besides the Thackerays -- Bal, Uddhav and Raj, the gala supplied enough fodder for political slackers to talk about.

Apart from the Shiv Sena's radiant gift of a 60-diamonds necklace, a gem dispended by Joshi -- "I am proud that of all public figures in Maharashtra and all chief ministers who have been in my chair, there have been no personal allegations against me" -- also caused many in the political circle to squint their eyes, particularly the Thackerays who allegedly took the banter personally.

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