Navi Mumbai : In one of the biggest poll upsets, NCP strongman and former excise and environment minister Ganesh Naik lost to Manda Mhatre by a small margin of 1,491 votes in Belapur Assembly constituency.
Manda left NCP and joined BJP attacking Naik as the man who was perpetuating family rule over Navi Mumbai and not allowing others to grow within the NCP. She wanted to win the Belapur seat at any cost and even declared that she would not mind fighting the poll even as an independent candidate if no party gave her a ticket.
In the initial rounds of counting, Naik, Manda and Shiv Sena’s Vijay Nahara were going neck-and-neck till Manda scored well in her home turf Belapur and even in NRI complex area.
As predicted, the rural votes were split among the three and Congress candidate Namdev Bhagat. But Vashi node has voted en masse for BJP demonstrating that the Modi wave is intact.
Old-timers would recall that Naik nurtured Navi Mumbai and built the Shiv Sena cadre with his secular image and even during the worst communal riots in Mumbai and Bhiwandi, Navi Mumbai remained peaceful. He won from Belapur seat in 1990, 1995 on the Sena ticket and 2004 and 2009 as the NCP candidate. But that is all part of history now.
He was also a strong contender for the Chief Minister’s post and even tried to topple Manohar Joshi in the 1995-96. Late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray upset Naik’s plans and eventually sacked the minister when he refused to resign.
Thackeray instructed Joshi to ban quarrying of the Parshik Hills – a business over which Naik had wielded tremendous control. For the last 14 years, Naik and his family have been literally ruling the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). His elder son Sanjeev was the first mayor who also represented Thane in the previous Lok Sabha.
His younger son Sandeep was today reelected as MLA from Airoli Currently. Naik’s nephew Sagar is the Navi Mumbai mayor.
B N KUMAR
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)