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The Battle for Maharashtra

Arun Gawli tastes maiden electoral victory

October 16, 2004 20:43 IST

Underworld don-turned-politician Arun Gawli tasted his first ever electoral success, winning the Chinchpokli seat in central Mumbai by a margin of 8000 votes.

Contesting on an Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABHS) ticket, he defeated Madhu Chavan (Congress) in a multi-cornered contest by margin of over 11,000 votes.

Terming his win as a 'receipt of the social service' he had done for the people, Gawli told PTI that as an MLA, he will concentrate on tackling issues like unemployment and homes for slum-dwellers.

"The poor in Mumbai seem to have lost hope of overcoming their day-to-day problems. I will try to remove this feeling of dejection and make their life comfortable," he said.

His prime concern will be to implement the Ambedkar-Valmiki housing scheme to provide houses to weaker sections. Another issue is the repair of old dilapidated buildings in his constituency, which he plans to pursue with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority.

In the Lok Sabha polls, Gawli surprised many by bagging over 90,000 votes in Mumbai South Central constituency, in a triangular fight against sitting Shiv Sena MP Mohan Rawale and the gangster's nephew and NCP legislator Sachin Ahir.

A former mill worker who took to crime in his youth, Gawli had posed a formidable challenge to the Dawood Ibrahim gang in the 80s and 90s before several of his lieutenants were killed in encounters in the late 90s.

He was booked under TADA in the late 80s but was acquitted by the Supreme Court.

Former TADA detenue Pappu Kalani, who fought the elections on a RPI (Athavale) ticket, retained his Ulhasnagar seat for the fourth consecutive time.

Another former TADA detenue and independent legislator from Vasai assembly seat in Thane district, Hitendra Thakur, defeated his rival by a margin of over 67,000 votes.

Former POTA detenue Mohammed Afroze who contested from Trombay, however, failed to make a mark.

Film producer and younger brother of fugitive don Chhota Rajan, Deepak Nikhalje who contested as an RPI (A) candidate from Chembur, lost to Congress candidate Chandrakant Handore.

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