safe and give us our rights in a city that had no reservations for us in any sector. One day in 1966, I read a large hoarding outside the Goregaon station inviting people to attend Balasaheb’s public address. I met him face-to-face for the first time during that sabha. His speech was so powerful that I did not have to think twice before filing up a form to join the Sena. After that day I never missed a public speech by him in Mumbai for eight years,” said Walawalkar.
He then became an active party worker, holding corner sabhas in Goregaon and participating in state-wide rallies in Maad, Raigad, Konkan etc to spread word about the newly launched party. While he claims that he never harboured any desires of becoming the shaakha pramukh, in 1968 he did take up the post for a few years. “I tried my best to work for my area and its local problems. Later, Balasheb helped me bag a contract of collecting and selling scrap from the Nirlon factory during 1973-90,” he said.
Pradnya, along with her five siblings would accompany her father at sabhas, as a young adult. She was then married to Pradeep Sawant, a Sainik from Andheri and a member of the Bhartiya Kamgar Sena (trade union). “I was denied a ticket to contest corporator elections thrice in 1990, 95 and 2005 because the ward is pre-dominantly Muslim and the party wanted to field a Muslim candidate. I still kept my loyalty intact to the Sena despite being offered a ticket by the Congress in 1995. Being a Sainik is about working for the society, not about building your political career,” said Pradeep.
Pradeep was close to Raj Thackeray but decided against moving to the MNS after Raj quit Sena in 2005. “Till Balasaheb is with Sena, I will be a Sainik,” he said. One of Pradnya’s four sisters, along with her husband, however did move to the MNS and that is a cause of sadness for the family.
Pradnya became the shaakha pramukh in 2010 and has been working for issues of water-supply and