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Shiv Sena's boos for Manohar Joshi bring out the friend in Narayan Rane

Politics makes for implausible bedfellows, goes the saying. And so do Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi and industries minister Narayan Rane, with the Congressman clearly choosing his enemy’s enemy as his friend.

Rane yesterday emanated a wave of sympathy for his former foe Joshi, while coming down heavily on the Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray for the badgering meted out to Joshi at the Sena’s Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, where angry party men heckled him till he left the venue. There was no perceptible attempt from Uddhav to pacify the crowds.

Manohar Joshi
Booed off: Manohar Joshi leaves the stage after livid Sena workers shouted slogans against him at the Dussehra Rally. (Inset) Narayan Rane. File Pics

“No leader who has put in so many years for the party should face such humiliation,” said Rane at his Manatralaya chamber on Tuesday. “Joshi was always treated nicely by late Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray. If this can happen with Joshi today, it can happen with anybody tomorrow,” said the former chief minister from Shiv Sena, who also served as revenue minister in Joshi’s cabinet.

A quick flash of the past should reveal how uncanny Rane’s bout of camaraderie for Joshi really is. For years during their days as fellow Shiv Sainiks, the two rarely saw eye-to-eye, exchanged niceties or spoke nicely of each other. But things are in flux, now that Joshi was booed off stage and shouted out of the Sena assembly.

The Sena has never been an organisation that spares its rebels or respects mutiny within the ranks. It is fiercely hostile to dissenters and foes, and famously scathing in the game of thrones, and these traits played out after Joshi panned the party leadership, namely Uddhav, for being feeble.

Rane, though, could not let slip the late ’90s days of stiff rivalrywith Joshi over the chief minister’s post when the Shiv Sena-BJP government briefly wrested power from the Congress to reign in the state.

“Irrespective of the ignominy he was subject to, Joshi has always yearned for a position of power,” said Rane, who was expelled from the Sena in 2005 and then rolled over to the Indian National Congress. “Even now, Joshi may not fulfil his dream of making it to Rajya Sabha as he will not get the required support from the MLAs,” said the state industries minister.

Laying into the Sena president, Rane said Uddhav let prominent people maroon the party and did not add even a single face. He added in an caustic tone, “The only new face that Shiv Sena got was the popular one on a Marathi TV channel, Adesh Bandekar (a TV host and Shiv Sainik). Had Balasaheb been alive, he would not have allowed Joshi to face such humiliation,” Rane concluded.  

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