On Thursday morning, the Shiv Sena top brass were quite content with how they had dealt with the crisis in their bastion — the Dadar-Mahim constituency.
They had replaced a controversial choice with a TV star and expected voters and party members alike to be quite content.
Then, their sitting MLA Sada Sarvankar (55) announced that he had joined the Congress.
And that he would contest the upcoming state election from the new Mahim constituency, making it now an exceedingly fierce three-way contest for the new Mahim seat.
Reality show host Aadesh Bandekar (42) replaces Sarvankar as the Sena candidate; Raj Thackeray’s MNS is fielding party general secretary Nitin Sardesai.
The trouble began with the delimitation. As constituency borders were redefined based on the latest (2001) census, Dadar and Mahim became one constituency.
And with the Sena desperate to win this former bastion — having been miserably defeated in this segment in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year — the party decided that a famous young face was the way to go.
When Sarvankar tried to protest, he was reportedly not even granted a meeting with party executive president Uddhav Thackeray.
“After five years of party work, don’t I deserve better?” he said at a press meet held after he had joined the Congress. “The party has done an injustice by fielding a TV star instead of a leader who has been striving for the party. I will contest the election from Mahim and win.”
Congress leaders Narayan Rane (a former Sainik himself) and city Congress president Kripashankar Singh reportedly played a crucial role in sealing the deal with Sarvankar.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, offered their condolences to Sarvankar over his choice to defect.
“He has joined the forces he was fighting all this time,” said MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut. “It is a sad thing that Sarvankar has left the party. He will soon realise his mistake.”
The prized Mahim constituency includes the area from Shivaji Park to Prabhadevi and Dadar and is dominated by middle- and upper-middle-class Maharashtrians, with a Muslim-dominated pocket in Mahim.