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Joshi spills beans on warring cousins

Mumbai, June 8 (PTI): Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi has acknowledged for the first time that he has been trying to heal the rift between Bal Thackeray’s son Uddhav and nephew Raj.

The rift between the two has worried Shiv Sainiks, more so because the Sena chief is getting on in years. Although Uddhav has taken over as executive president, Raj is the youth wing leader and has his own following in the outfit.

Joshi, one of the seniormost Sena leaders to have remained close to Thackeray, has made a significant entry on the warring cousins in his book, Speaker’s Diary, to be released here tomorrow by Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Dated October 8, 2002, the entry says Joshi called on Thackeray at his residence, Matoshri, that afternoon. Joshi discussed the cousins and said their differences had to be resolved. The Speaker recalls: “The meeting was not much successful. But no success is achieved instantly. I decided to continue my efforts”.

The book in Marathi is full of inside information and anecdotes.

In his diary, Joshi says democracy is ingrained in the Indian psyche and any person or party attempting to subvert this is bound to be rejected by the public.

Speaking about the Indian system, Joshi says: “The Indian Constitution guarantees a secular, socialist state and it is a document that guides people to attain a self-reliant society. It is the greatness of this system which requires an individual, irrespective of high office, to relinquish the post if any allegations are proved against him or her.”

Even though his party chief believes in benign dictatorship, Joshi notes that democracy begins at home for a true democrat. “If a politician is a dictator in his own household but sings praises of democracy from public platforms, he is unable to survive in a parliamentary democratic set-up like India,” he says.

The first Lok Sabha Speaker, G.V. Mavalankar, had written a diary of his first year in the post, 1952-53. The account was not published but has been preserved in the national archive.

Joshi drew inspiration from Mavalankar and chronicled every day of his first year in the post, from May 10, 2002, to May 9, 2003.

The meticulous Joshi has not missed a single day, including the time he underwent angioplasty on August 27, 2002 in a Mumbai hospital. His entry for that day recalls a joke cracked by heart surgeon Nitu Mandke before the operation.

The 365-page diary is priced at Rs 365. Joshi decided to publish the book at the end of his first year as Speaker just six months into his tenure. “This book is only a beginning.... Joshi will publish each year’s chronicle henceforth regularly,” a source close to him said.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has written a glowing foreword to the book, in which he reportedly envies Joshi’s ability to maintain a diary despite his busy schedule.

The book details the developments that led to Joshi’s unanimous election as Speaker following the death of his predecessor, G.M.C. Balayogi, in an accident.

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