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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Senas’ battle for Dadar begins

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, October 28, 2013
First Published: 08:58 IST(28/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:11 IST(28/10/2013)

As parliamentary elections inch closer, the battle for Mumbai’s South Central constituency, specifically Dadar, has begun.

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The city is likely to witness one of the most riveting fights of the season - the battle over the original Marathi bastion of Dadar.

For the two rival Senas - Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), neither of whom hold the seat - this seat is equally crucial.

In his last public address a month before his death, Bal Thackeray had appealed to Sainiks to regain Dadar for him.

The Sena is willing to let go of Manohar Joshi, its first chief minister, and is ready for a rift with ally, Republic Party of India (Athavale).

Joshi had demanded this seat, a demand that was tur ned down.

RPI ( A) chief Ramdas Athavale has staked claim for this seat, which the Sena has refused to entertain.

Having lost Dadar Assembly polls and all seven corporator seats in the area to its nemesis, the MNS, another loss will be a huge blow for the Sena.

“If Raj wins, the Sena’s psychological annihilation will be complete. For Uddhav, this seat is going to be the test of whether he can take the Sena ahead without Balasaheb; a test that will decide the Sena’s fate,” said political commentator Prakash Bal.

The loss of Dadar has coincided with the Sena’s decline, Bal said.

“If Uddhav has to make his cadre feel that the Sena is getting stronger, Dadar has to go back to being a Sena bastion.”

For the MNS, the challenge will be to maintain its dominance.

“Other than the MP’s seat, we have established control over every seat of power in Dadar. If we don’t bag this seat, our dominance is open to being challenged by the Sena,” said an MNS leader.

The fight between the Senas may see the Congress laughing its way to the ballot box, something that happened in 2009.

The games have already begun. The Sena has, more or less, given a go-ahead to standing committee chairperson Rahul Shewale to prepare for the battle.

The MNS plans to turn the heat on Shewale for which it has appointed Shivaji Park corporator Sandeep Deshpande as leader of its corporators in the civic body.

“Deshpande is dynamic and aggressive, which will help counter Shewale in the BMC, where we can expose his misdeeds,” said an MNS leader.

The party is also abuzz with names of candidates for this seat - its students wing head Aditya Shirodkar and MLA Nitin Sardesai are being discussed.

One thing is sure - the battle for this seat will be played out beyond its physical boundaries.

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