From building the party’s organisation in northern Maharashtra’s Dhule to wresting the high-profile Mumbai South seat, it has been a long journey for Shiv Sena lawmaker Arvind Sawant who has got a berth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
Known as a leader accessible to party workers and people, Sawant made a mark during his first term in the Lok Sabha in 2014 with his speeches which reflected a detailed analysis of the issues concerned and suggestions on policy decisions.
The 68-year-old leader, who retained his Mumbai-South seat this time by defeating Congress’s Milind Deora by over 1 lakh votes, has been associated with the Shiv Sena since the party’s early years.
Sawant, who is now deputy leader of the party and its spokesman, started in 1968 as a ‘gat pramukh’, the lowest rung of hierarchy, rendering his services in poll duties and participating in various agitations organised by the Sena.
He was also associated with the party’s Stanik Lokadhikar Samiti, whose primary demand was jobs for “bhoomi putra” or sons of the soil.
Described as a grassroots organisation man, Sawant helped the Uddhav Thackeray-led party make inroads in north Maharashtra and Marathwada.
The Sena extended its base in north Maharashtra when he was its coordinator for the region, where it won the Dhule Municipal Corporation for the first time in 1995 and later five of its MLAs were elected in Nashik district.
Sawant also handled the party work in Pune, Nashik and Ahmednagar districts and ensured its success in Jalgaon, Nanded, Hingoli and Kalyan-Dombivali as ‘sampark pramukh’.
He was an engineer at the Mahanagar Telephone Network Ltd (MTNL) till 1995 and took voluntary retirement after he was nominated to the Maharashtra Legislative Council from governor’s quota after Shiv Sena-BJP government came to power. He is currently the president of the MTNL trade union.
He was later elected as MLC from the Mumbai Local Bodies constituency.
He was earlier also general secretary of the State Transport Kamgar Sena where he helped set up unions in 30 districts.
He also served as a member of the standing committee on petroleum and natural gas, Parliament estimate committee and consulting committee on IT.