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Joshi hopeful of Chair

Fond of using anecdotes, he loves to draw comparisons and like a true teacher, makes complex situations easy to understand. Manohar Joshi, the Shiv Sena candidate for North Central Mumbai, exudes confidence at his chance of re-election.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 26, 2004 11:43 AM IST

Fond of using similes and anecdotes, he loves to draw comparisons and like a true teacher, makes complex situations easy to understand.

This is Manohar Joshi, the Shiv Sena candidate for North Central Mumbai and speaker of the last Lok Sabha, who exudes confidence at his chance of re-election and even a second stint as the "umpire" of the Lok Sabha.

"I have already chalked out my plans for the next Lok Sabha," Joshi has said.

When asked what made him so confident of his victory, he said: "The work that I have done in my constituency holds out for me. I have built public toilets, cleaned and paved up the area.

"People reward hard and consistent work. They appreciate the way I had conducted myself as the speaker of the Lok Sabha."

But despite this confidence, he gave a guarded reply to a question on whether the ruling National Democratic Alliance would return to power after the elections.

"Nobody knows for sure what is going to happen. It is not just arithmetic. This unpredictability is the magic of democracy," he said.

On his attempts to woo Muslim voters in his constituency, Joshi said: "My constituency comprises Muslims. They are as friendly to me as the Hindus are. I am now seen as a neutral person although I am from the Shiv Sena."

Detailing his plans for the next Lok Sabha, he said his first priority would be to push through the Women's Reservation Bill.

"We came close to a consensus the last time and I am confident that a breakthrough can be achieved," said Joshi.

Maintaining the house's dignity was the biggest challenge as the Speaker, he said. "It was a difficult task to conduct proceedings with 24 parties on the treasury benches and 42 in the opposition benches."

Joshi said though he had no regrets, he was unhappy that the bill to reserve 33 percent of parliamentary and state assembly seats for women could not be passed during his tenure.

On what he liked doing the most, Joshi said: "I am happy playing the role of an umpire. One has to concentrate on the fielders as well as batsmen and need the concentration of Sachin Tendulkar."

But he maintained silence over questions on the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine, the contest between former central minister Ram Jetmalani and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Lucknow constituency, the role of film stars in politics and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin.

"I am above all this," Joshi asserted.

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