The Shiv Sena has decided to back Dilip Vengsarkar in the July 15 polls for the top post at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray has come out in support of Vengsarkar, who will be pitted against NCP chief and Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar who has held the MCA chief’s post since 2001.
On June 28, Hindustan Times first reported that Vengsarkar would be backed by the Sena, leading to a political battle in the field of cricket. “The cricket pitch is now being dominated by politicians, and we do not want a repeat of the same. Have Pawar or Vilasrao Deshmukh ever held a bat? We want a cricketer to be heading the association and so we have decided to back Vengsarkar’s panel,” Thackeray said in a statement on Friday. He added that it is because of the interference of politicians that the game has taken a different turn. Money has become more important than the game, Thackeray said.
Interestingly, the Shiv Sena held the MCA post with former CM and MP Manohar Joshi at its helm, and ruled it till Pawar took over. But, after that the Sena has never aggressively pursued it to get its hold back on the MCA, and never went against Pawar.
Defending this view Thackeray said, “Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray also liked cricket but is against politicising it. You don’t need to stand for elections because you have to cover up for mistakes you have made in your previous terms,” he said. These statements from Thackeray are indicative of its change in stand towards the NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who enjoys a cordial friendship with the Sena chief.