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Sena’s suave face, unflinching loyalty towards his ‘saheb’, hallmark of Manohar Joshi's politics

From stepping down as CM following the 'aadesh' (orders) of 'saheb' Bal Thackeray to being booed and heckled by Shiv Sainiks at the party’s first Dussherra rally after the founder's demise in 2012, Joshi never openly criticised the party leadership.
Last Updated 23 February 2024, 06:19 IST

Mumbai: A suave face of the Shiv Sena at a time when the party was known for its rustic and street politics, former Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi who went on to become the Lok Sabha speaker never severed ties with the Thackerays despite snubs.

From stepping down as chief minister following the 'aadesh' (orders) of 'saheb' Bal Thackeray to being booed and heckled by Shiv Sainiks at the party’s first Dussherra rally after the founder's demise in 2012, Joshi never openly criticised the party leadership.

It was also a matter of faith and an unflinching loyalty towards Matoshri, the Thackeray home in Mumbai’s Bandra area, and his 'saheb' till his last breath.

So much so that when Raj Thackeray walked out of the party to form the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, sons of many Shiv Sena leaders chose to join him, but the senior brigade decided to stick to Bal Thackeray. Joshi was one of them.

This had been the hallmark of Joshi's four-decade-old association with the Shiv Sena.

Joshi (86) passed away on Friday at the P D Hinduja Hospital, where he was admitted after suffering a cardiac arrest. He had also been admitted to the hospital in May last year after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Born on December 2, 1937, in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Joshi obtained his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the prestigious Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Mumbai.

His political career began with his involvement in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, but he joined the Shiv Sena after being enamoured by the appeal of party founder Bal Thackeray's “sons of the soil” campaign.

Joshi began his career as a teacher and entered politics in 1967.

Known for his organisational skills, Joshi started his electoral politics by becoming a councillor in Mumbai during 1968-70 and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the Mumbai municipal corporation in 1970. He was the Mayor of Mumbai during 1976-1977. As the mayor, Joshi also ran a campaign 'Clean Mumbai-Green Mumbai'.

Joshi had the 'several firsts' tag of the Shiv Sena.

He was Sena’s first Member of Legislative Council (MLC) in 1972, the party's first Leader of Opposition, its first chief minister and then the Lok Sabha speaker.

After serving three terms in the Legislative Council, Joshi was elected to the Maharashtra Assembly in 1990 and was the Leader of the Opposition during 1990-91.

Joshi Sir, as he was popularly known, was the first chief minister of the undivided Shiv Sena and held the post during 1995-1999.

While the senior Thackeray boasted of how he remote-controlled the Sena-led government in the state, it was chief minister Manohar Joshi at the other end who executed his decisions for nearly four years.

In a snub, Thackeray had sent a confidential communique to Joshi, asking him to submit his resignation to then Maharashtra Governor P C Alexander in 1999.

In the 1999 general elections, Joshi won from the Mumbai North-Central Lok Sabha constituency as a Shiv Sena candidate and subsequently became the Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

He was the Lok Sabha Speaker from 2002 to 2004 when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was in power.

Joshi was defeated in 2004. Since then, the party also underwent a generational shift, with Uddhav Thackeray ushering in newer leaders and Joshi finding himself relegated.

On the business side, he founded the Kohinoor group, which is involved in real estate, education and many other areas.

The former Union minister was married to Anagha Joshi, who died in 2020 at the age of 75. He is survived by a son and two daughters.

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(Published 23 February 2024, 06:19 IST)

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