BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Profile: Manohar Joshi
Shiv Sena demonstration
Critics say Mr Joshi's Shiv Sena party is divisive
test hello test
By Sanjeev Srivastava
BBC correspondent in Bombay

The decision by India's ruling coalition to elect Manohar Gajanan Joshi as speaker of India's lower house of parliament has angered opposition parties.

Manohar Ganjanan Joshi
Many will not be pleased with Mr Joshi's elevation
Mr Joshi is a top leader of the right-wing Shiv Sena party, whose ultra-nationalist Hindu agenda is believed by many to be harming India's status as a secular state.

But the opposition declined to put up a candidate for the speaker's post.

And the governing coalition had the requisite numbers to push through Mr Joshi's candidature.

Humble beginnings

The 65-year-old Mr Joshi has come a long way since his birth to a lower middle class family in a small village in the western state of Maharashtra.

One of his first jobs was that of newspaper delivery boy at the age of 12, which he was forced to take up to meet his education expenses.

Indian parliament
The opposition did not field a candidate for speaker

Later he ran coaching classes for students in Bombay, opened a hotel in the city and worked in the construction business.

He joined the Shiv Sena party in the 1960s and was first elected to the state assembly in 1972. From 1976-79 he was the mayor of Bombay.

Mr Joshi became the chief minister of Maharashtra in 1995 when a coalition of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in the state.

His tenure was unremarkable - so much so that he was often referred to as a "remote control" chief minister dancing to the tune set by Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray.

Following communal riots in Bombay in 1992-93, he rejected the findings of an inquiry into the violence that was critical of the Shiv Sena leadership.

In 1999, Mr Joshi was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha and sworn in as minister for heavy industries in the Atal Behari Vajpayee cabinet.

Prestigious post

There are many in Indian political life who will not be pleased by the elevation of Mr Joshi to one of the highest and most prestigious posts in the country.

The main opposition Congress party has already expressed its anger at the governing coalition's decision.

Those unhappy with the appointment are opposed to the Shiv Sena style of politics which they believe leads to religious intolerance.

Critics say that Shiv Sena's agenda is divisive even in normal times for a multi-religious country like India.

But they say it becomes all the more dangerous in communally charged times such as these, especially in view of the continuing religious violence in Gujarat.

But the governing coalition is unlikely to accept the argument that the decision to choose Mr Joshi has anything to do with nationalist Hindu politics.

It says the speaker's post usually goes to a member of the governing party or the governing coalition.

In this case the post of Speaker has gone to Shiv Sena almost by default as the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) - the largest political grouping supporting the government in the lower house - has refused the post.

The Shiv Sena is the second largest ally of the governing coalition and hence the post was offered to the party.

See also:

06 May 02 | South Asia
Indian MPs back Gujarat motion
25 Apr 02 | South Asia
UK report censures Gujarat rulers
16 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
28 Feb 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's religious clashes
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories