Sena receives body blow, loses in Malwan, north-west Mumbai

Mumbai, Nov 22 | Updated: Nov 23 2005, 05:30am hrs
The saffron Shiv Sena on Tuesday received a body blow after rebel ex-Sena leader and Congress minister Narayan Rane defeated Parshuram Uparkar in the much debated byelection to the Malwan assembly constituency by a record 63,372 votes. Mr Rane, who was expelled in July from the party by its supremo Bal Thackeray in July, bagged 78,616 votes, while Mr Uparkar, who was until recently a right hand-man of Mr Rane, got 15,244 votes. Mr Uparkar lost his deposit.

Similarly, Senas veteran leader Madhukar Sarpotdar, a two-time parliamentarian, lost to Congress nominee and daughter of former union minister late Sunil Dutt, Priya Dutt, by a margin of 1,72,043 votes in north west Mumbai Parliamentary constituency. Ms Dutt, who cashed in on the sympathy wave, succeeded in retaining the seat for the Congress party.

Underworld don Abu Salems revelations involving his brother and leading actor Sanjay Dutt have not impacted Ms Dutts electoral prospects. The 39-year-old Ms Dutt polled 3,43,933 votes and Mr Sarpotdar bagged 1,71,890. Triumphant in his thumping victory, Mr Rane said on Tuesday that Uddhav Thackeray should give up the party post, owning moral responsibility for the Sena candidates defeat.

The Sena is finished in this region. It is not Uparkar who lost his deposit, it is Uddhav Thackeray who has lost. Almost all Sena leaders came to campaign (here) but they still could not save forfeiture of the Sena candidates deposit, Mr Rane told reporters.

A street-smart leader, Mr Rane has attributed his win to party president Sonia Gandhi, the 10 Sena MLAs who sided with him after his expulsion from the saffron party, and party workers in the region.

Analysts feel that the Senas disintegration is imminent with Tuesdays setbacks. A large number of Sena rank and file, which is unable to accept the Sena supremos son and party executive president Uddhav Thackerays leadership, may quit the party to join Mr Rane ahead of the ensuing elections to the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation slated for 2007.

Moreover, the rift between Uddhav and Mr Bal Thakerays nephew and firebrand Sena leader Raj would further widen as the Sena supremo has already declared that Uddhav would practically head the party in future and he (Mr Bal Thackeray) would play the role of advisor.

Voters from Malwan, which was the bastion of Shiv Sena since 1990 after Mr Rane bagged the seat for the first time in the Assembly elections till now, simply neglected the loud claims made by the Sena supremo and Uddhav that Mr Rane was involved in a rule of terror.