MCA polls: Uddhav Thackeray likely to field Anil Desai against Sharad Pawar

With elections approaching, can politicians be far behind? The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) polls are barely two weeks away (June 17) and it is likely a senior Shiv Sena leader will challenge incumbent and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for the president’s post.

It is reliably learnt that Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will name the party’s nominee for the top post on or before June 9, the last day for filing the nomination papers. According to sources in the ‘Cricket First’ group, headed by Dr Vijay Patil of DY Patil Sports Academy, Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai is likely to get the party chief’s nod to take on the former Union agriculture minister, who calls the shots in the Pawar-Bal Mahadalkar group.

A day after joining hands with the Sena, Cricket First leaders were gung-ho over their chances in the upcoming polls. It is understood that Patil, a sitting vice-president of the MCA, has roped in former India batsman and Mumbai coach Pravin Amre. On its part, the Sena has asked its leaders, Lok Sabha MP Rahul Shewale and Thane MLA Pratap Sarnaik, to contest the polls. Desai, an influential leader, is expected to make the Union cabinet as and when prime minister Narendra Modi calls for an expansion.

According to sources, the Pawar-Bal Mahadalkar group will see incumbent Pawar stand for the top post. The group’s vice-president candidates are former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar and BJP leader Ashish Shelar. Ravi Savant, who has served the association as president and vice-president over the last few years, is expected to stand for the post of joint-secretary. The other candidate for joint-secretary is Dr PV Shetty, an incumbent. Nitin Dalal, now joint-secretary, is expected to throw his hat in the ring for the treasurer’s post.

The Cricket First group is likely to field incumbent Patil for the vice-president’s post. Shewale is expected to be their second candidate. Former India batsman Lalchand Rajput and Dr Unmesh Khanvilkar, a close confidante of Patil, are expected to be the two joint-secretary candidates. Mayank Khandwala is expected to stand for treasurer. Former India bowler Abey Kuruvilla, veteran curator Nadim Memon, Sanjay Patil, Deepak Jadhav and Sarnaik are expected to fight the elections for managing committee berths.