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'Can't work well without my siesta'

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai | April 26, 2004 13:03 IST
Last Updated: April 26, 2004 13:51 IST

One thing Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi does not like about himself is his habit of sleeping in the afternoon.

"I have tried to overcome this habit, but failed. I cannot function properly if I don't take a nap for 15 to 30 minutes in the afternoon," says Joshi, who is seeking to get re-elected from Mumbai North Central on a Shiv Sena ticket.

It is 7.30am, Monday, and Joshi, his wife Anagha and son Unmesh are at Vanita Samaj in Shivaji Park area of Dadar to vote.

Some people are busy jogging at Shivaji Park and some are yet to begin their day.

Polling agents near the voting booth are waiting for people to turn up.

On his plan for the day, Joshi says, "Obviously, I won't sleep in the afternoon today. I am going to take rounds of different Shiv Sena shakhas in my area and assess the situation. I know it is a very important day of my life and therefore I will work throughout the day. I only sleep when I don't have excess work. When it comes to work it is like worship for me. So on such days work takes precedence over sleep."

Unlike his mentor Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who votes at 11am, Joshi's day begins at 6am on polling days.

"He has a habit of getting up early and performing puja everyday. But on polling days, he visits Siddhivinayak Temple at Prabhadevi to perform his puja. This is a family ritual on voting days. We have been following this routine since 1967, when my husband contested elections at the local level for a councillor's seat in Naigaon, Mumbai," says his wife.

On his fitness, Joshi says, "I always believe in eating less. I don't eat heavy stuff. I never eat non-vegetarian food. I am an early riser and that is why I think I keep fit."

Joshi likes dal and roti, his wife says, adding, "he also exercises to keep fit".

"Let me tell you that my weight has been constant since I became the chief minister of Maharashtra a decade ago," adds Joshi.

Analysts say Joshi will win hands down against Congress candidate Eknath Gaikwad.

On the fact that Mumbai has one of the lowest turnouts, he says,

"Unfortunately this is true. Last time there were rains and people didn't come out of their homes till 2pm. This time there is scorching heat. So I have instructed my party workers that they should go door to door and encourage people to come out and vote."

"This time there are three days of holidays… Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A lot of people go out for a weekend holiday. But my advice to them is that they should not do that and rather cast their vote. This is one of the fundamental rights of our countrymen. People must vote and elect whoever they want. This opportunity comes once in five years. So no eligible Indian voter should miss it," says Joshi.

On Thackeray's recent comment that he would support the National Democratic Alliance from outside if Nationalist Congress President Sharad Pawar joined the amalgam, Joshi smiles and says, "Balasaheb is my leader. Whatever he says, I will obey."

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