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Sena battles the war within

It’s mutiny within the saffron brigade. And, for a party that prided itself on discipline and obedience, perhaps also a sign that the ailing tiger no longer has absolute command over his troops, report Dharmendra Jore & Naresh Kamath

mumbai Updated: Sep 21, 2009 02:04 IST

It’s mutiny within the saffron brigade. And, for a party that prided itself on discipline and obedience, perhaps also a sign that the ailing tiger no longer has absolute command over his troops.

In a never-before-seen display of insubordination, two groups of enraged Shiv Sainiks marched on Matoshree — one on Sunday afternoon, the other just a few hours later — to protest the party’s choice of Assembly poll candidates.

First, a truckful of enraged Shiv Sainiks rode to Bal Thackeray’s Bandra residence. Waving flags and shouting slogans, they demanded that Dadar Legislator Sada Sarvankar be given a ticket for the upcoming Assembly polls.

As the Sena chief was, for the first time in his life, forced to order his own men away from his gate, the protestors turned around, but did not give up.

Instead, they headed for 71-year-old Sena leader Manohar Joshi’s house in Dadar.

There, in typical Sena fashion, they proceeded to smash flowerpots in the building compound.

As a shocked Joshi, a lifelong Shiv Sainik and former chief minister, backed away from his window, the Sainiks hurled stones towards him and shouted abuse, claiming had conspired to keep Sarvankar from getting a ticket.

“It is an unfortunate incident,” said Joshi. “I have never faced such unruly behaviour in my entire life.”

The Sainiks finally scattered when the police arrived.

Sarvankar has denied playing any role in the fracas.

“They were not my supporters,” he said. “Sir (as Joshi is fondly called) is my leader.”

A few hours later, a second group of Sainiks — this time led by leader of the BMC House Sunil Prabhu — marched to Matoshree and demanded to see Uddhav. This group was allowed in, and reportedly discussed why Gajanan Kirtikar was being given a seat from Dindoshi rather than Prabhu.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had a harrowing day too, as members denied tickets in keeping with the party’s seat-sharing agreement with the Sena protested, broke away and even launched their own parties.

Denied his ticket on Saturday, four-time BJP legislator from Guhagar (Ratnagiri) Dr Vinay Natu ended his relationship with the party and floated his own outfit — the Shridhar Sena, named after his father.

And in Ghatkopar, where the BJP announced the candidature of Poonam Mahajan, daughter of slain leader Pramod Mahajan, the supporters of local corporator Pravin Chheda staged a noisy protest.

Party functionaries declined to comment, but sources said Chheda had been invited to the BJP headquarters to discuss the issue.

“The matter will be sorted out soon,” a senior leader said.