Thane district’s two politicians infamous for their alleged criminal links have suffered in the Assembly polls.
In Ulhasnagar, MLA Pappu Kalani lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kumar Ailani, while in Vasai-Virar, Hitendra Thakur’s outfit, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) lost the Vasai seat to his rival Vivek Pandit.
Both Kalani and Thakur have done jail time for several years since the early1990s, under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. In Ulhasnagar, a Sindhi-majority town in Thane district, Kalani’s loss to Ailani was the first time he lost the seat since he first won it in 1990. He was mayor of Ulhasnagar when he was elected Congress MLA in 1990.
After his arrest, he was expelled from the party but managed to get reelected as an independent in 1995 and 1999, and then in the 2004 Assembly election on a Republican Party of India ticket. This time, Ailani defeated him by 7,538 votes. Kalani’s defeat comes two years after his outfit lost power in the Ulhasnagar civic body after nearly two decades. Kalani’s wife is the Nationalist Congress Party’s Ulhasnagar unit chief.
In Vasai-Virar, Thakur fielded candidates in four constituencies, and won two – Boisar and Nalasopara. In political circles, the shocker was the BVA’s defeat in Vasai, considered Thakur’s stronghold. BVA candidate Narayan Mankar was defeated by Shiv Sena leader-turned-independent Vivek Pandit by 16,798 votes. Pandit has been locked in a bitter tussle with Thakur for the last two decades.
Thakur, the brother of gangster Bhai Thakur, was first elected as Congress MLA in 1990, but expelled from the party after his arrest. Like Kalani, he was elected as an independent in the 1995, 1999 and 2004 elections. Recently, his candidate Baliram Jadhav was elected MP from Palghar in Thane district.
Of the two BVA candidates who won this time, one is his son Kshitij (from Nalasopara), who also happens to be the youngest MLA in the new Assembly.