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A few days after confronting officials of Maharashtra Sadan and forcing a chapati into the mouth of a fasting Muslim employee, Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare tweeted on the necessity of “walking away from arguments”. He went on to laud various icons ranging from Nelson Mandela to Zohra Sehgal.
What he is known for, however, is his aggression, not just because of what happened at Maharashtra Sadan. Vichare, 52, has over 13 criminal cases registered against him, the charges ranging from rioting to criminal intimidation, according to the affidavit he filed before the elections.
His detractors cite several past instances of “uncouth behaviour”. “He has a very abrasive nature. He has a habit of being abusive with officers which was evident in the Maharashtra Sadan incident,” opposition leader of the Thane Municipal Corporation Najeeb Mulla says.
Vichare’s personal political rise coincided with the Shiv Sena’s in the late 1980s and 1990s. He was eight when his family migrated from Maharashtra’s hinterlands to Thane, and was soon attracted like many other Marathi youngsters to the Sena. Vichare, who has cleared his SSC exams according to his affidavit, was particularly attracted by Anand Dighe, who was instrumental in spreading the clout of the Sena in Thane. He is known to have followed Dighe around. They built a bond that launched his political career. He became first a shakha pramukh or branch head of the Sena, and subsequently a corporator.
The death of senior faces of the Sena in Thane, including Anand Dighe and Prakash Paranjape, created space for a second rung, and Vichare was part of it. He was subsequently made Thane mayor in 2006 and an MLA in 2009.
In the 2014 elections, he surprised many by defeating Thane strongman Ganesh Naik’s son Sanjeev.
In his affidavit, Vichare has listed agriculture and house property as his sources of income.
Vichare is known to be religious. Sources say he takes along members of his constituency on pilgrimages across India.