In the poll fray this time is gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli’s daughter Geeta, set to take over the baton after Gawli was sentenced to life in prison two years ago, for murdering Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar in 2008.
Even though there were talks about Geeta contesting on a Shiv Sena ticket from Byculla — where Gawli’s den Dagdi Chawl is located – she said she will fight the polls as a candidate for the Akhil Bhartiya Sena(ABS), founded by her father.
“Talks with Sena have been going on for a while, but I have decided to contest on our own party ticket,” said Geeta, adding that Daddy (as Gawli is called) wants her to keep ABS alive.
Geeta has won the municipal elections two years in a row, but this time, her challenge is to woo voters beyond her ward. Although her rivals are already launching their campaigns, Geeta says she will begin hers at the right time: “I will begin my campaign trail after touching the goddess’ feet at our Navratri pandal,” she said. The ABS will field around 15 candidates in the state.
In the 2009 Assembly polls, Gawli had bagged the third highest number of votes (22.11% ), with only 1,495 votes separating him and first runner-up, MNS’ Sanjay Naik.
Political observers feel more than his political party – formed in 1997 after a bloody feud with the Shiv Sena – its labour wing, the Akhil Bhartiya Kamgaar Sena (AKBS) played a significant role in getting the family a firm footing in the city’s politics.
Geeta said her focus will be on dilapidated buildings at Byculla. “Around 30% of my voters live in these buildings. My focus will be on providing them with better homes.”
Many feel the ABS has lost its sheen after Gawli’s jail sentence, but Geeta contesting the polls could revive that. Voters should look at a candidate’s work and not the party, Geeta said. “I don’t have any strategy, but I have my work as a two-term corporator to show people.”