Joshi in a 'lyrical' rally
This is what a song composed on demand for the Shiv Sena says: "Soye Bharat ko Shiv Sainik Jagane chale".
It's a great hit among the campaigners of Manohar Joshi, Speaker of the dissolved Lok Sabha. He is contesting with the hope to win again from Mumbai North Central constituency, where Shiv Sena headquarters is located.
He has promised the moon to the residents of Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia; but normally avoids walking in the congested lanes and by-lanes. The rival Congress candidate Eknath Gaekwad has made this an issue.
But Joshi during his campaign in Dadar area appears satisfied. The lines of firecrackers are longer than the Shiv Sena-BJP procession. Smoke overtakes whole area.
The Shiv Sainiks had instructed the footpath vendors to garland the leader when he passed through the area. The orders were obeyed faithfully. A sugarcane-juice vendor brings a full glass for Joshi and again for many others. The leader looks fairly impressed.
Ask the juice seller- "Who will pay the money?" And pat comes the reply, "Aah, I am supposed to do this without expecting anything."
Some middle-aged people dance in front of his jeep to the tuneless beat of the brass band accompanying the procession. They hold currency notes between their teeth. Joshi laughs heartily.
The tailors in Madhawadi don't even lift their heads to see who is there with so much noise. Some people in Vasanji Park area argue about who among those half a dozen leaders standing in the open jeep is Joshi. Then they reach the conclusion that the fatly thick man must be the local MP.
"A national leader who promises big and looks big": but it is a case of mistaken identity.
Joshi has something for all the six assembly constituencies in the area. "I have to fulfil the demand of our Muslim sisters for a maternity home in Nehru Nagar. Mahim Chowpati should be beautified. The Prime Minister has approved an extensive rehabilitation project for Dharavi. The hawkers in Dadar area need better space. The problems in other two areas seek urgent attention", says Joshi.
The slogans repeatedly remind the people that Manohar Joshi is a former principal of college. "I have done M.A. and graduation in law and taught for so many years. Balasaheb Thackeray has shaped me for politics. The voters will fulfil his desire again", he hopes. The slogans are raised mostly in support of Thakeray and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Joshi's name comes only occasionally. "He has got the blessings of President Abdul Kalam Azad, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thakeray", someone announces from the loudspeaker. Dropping the names is a compulsion for Joshi, even if it is wrong to use the President's name in this context. But he needs all the help he can get. For there are many voices raised against him. And all of them ask, ``Where was he for the last four and a half years?"