Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra
He stopped wearing shoes in 2005, a mark of protest against Narayan Rane for leaving the Shiv Sena and joining the Congress. Following an election victory by Rane, he pledged to remain barefoot until the leader was cut to size. With the Konkan strongman defeated, many Shiv Sainiks feel that day has finally arrived after nine years.
Arvind Jagnath Bhosale, now 41, however, hasn’t started to wear shoes yet. “I am still barefoot although I have received almost 400 pairs of shoes and chappals from Shiv Sena leaders and Sainiks across the state,” he says.
When he steps back into footwear may depend on the way the government shapes up. “I may start after the party has taken a decision on the Shiv Sena’s position in forming the government. I will possibly wear chappals from October 27.”
He describes the circumstances that led to his self-imposed restriction. “I was in Sindhudurg district when the result of the Kankavli bypoll was declared on November 21, 2005. That was the day I swore not to wear chappals,” says Bhosale, a Shiv Sainik who now heads the party’s Worli shakha. “During his poll campaign, Rane had used very filthy language against the Sena and our chief Bal Thackeray. I felt deceived as he had been a Sena man and shifted to the Congress just for political benefits.”
He makes no secret of his delight at Rane’s loss from Kudal. “I am very happy that Rane has lost the election to Sena man Vaibhav Naik. It is not just my victory.”
He goes on to describe how life barefoot has been. “It has been almost nine years that I have been travelling barefoot across the state, no longer noticing the pain. Others look at me with curiosity,” he says. “The most difficult part about remaining barefoot, in fact, was explaining to my daughter Ananya, now six years old, when she asked me, ‘Baba , why don’t you wear shoes?’ I told her it is my promise to myself and to Bal Thackeray that the day Rane loses, I will wear shoes,” he says.
He has resisted temptation earlier. “During the Lok Sabha elections, when Rane’s son Nilesh lost, Uddhav Thackeray told me that I could start wearing chappals but I refused. I told him that I had to keep in mind that Sindhudurg needs to come back to the Sena from Rane’s grip,” Bhosale said.
He claims that what he did put pressure on Rane too. “I was indirectly approached by Rane’s supporters. He was under pressure as he knew somebody wanted him to ensure his defeat in politics,” he says. “Once his son Nitesh mentioned my pledge at a public meeting at Jambori Maidan. That was the day I realised I would win and Rane would be defeated in Konkan.”
A businessman, he stays in Worli. His wife, Archana, is a manager with a multinational bank.