Now that Mr. Nana Chudasama's term is coming to an end, the big question is: who will Chief Minister Sharad Pawar appoint as the new sheriff. And since Mr. Chudasama yhas made the job so high profile, there are several claimants for it.
To begin with, there is Myor Chhagan Bhujbal. He has been telling Mr. Bal Thackeray: "What is the point in my being mayor. Nobody cres for the mayor and, when the prime minister comes to Bombay all the mayor gets to do is stand on the stage and release balloons. Use your influence with Sharadji and get him to make me sheriff. That is hwere all the power, prestige and publicity is."
Municipal Commissioner Padmanabhaiah, though one of our senior-most executive officials, feels more or less the same way. Only he looks on the sheriff's job more from a point of view of getting things done rather than just publicity. He has been telling friends: "Since I became the municipal commissioner, I have been trying to get the city clean. But all my efforts have failed. To get the city cleaned, I have realised, you have to be the sheriff has to issue just one order and 5,000 reformed drug addicts, plus Padmini Kolhapure and Poonam Dhillon, are on the streets, cleaning them, whitewashing the walls, singing Mumbai hamchi ladki nagri. I am going to hand in my resignation to Sharad Pawar and ask him to make me sheriff."
Police Commissioner Ramamurthy is also keen on Mr. Pawar appointing himsheriff. Though as yet he has not said so in public, he has been telling his wife: "For bandobust, you have to be sheriff, not a police officer. I tell you, I personally saw it at Marine Drive. People were throwing chappals at the police, but one word from the sheriff, plus the music of kalyanji-Anandji, and the entire public settled down."
There is also Mahanagar Telephones general mangater, Mr. Venkatram, who wants to meet Mr. Pawar before he appoints the next sheriff and put in his claim. He was telling his senior officials: "I cannot handle this providing of out-of-turn telephone connections any more. They are a big headache. Only the sheriff can handle them, look at the number of them Mr. Chudasama is providing. So I have decided to become the sheriff. Never mind, one year, two years, however many. I will give up all this."
Then there is Mr. Sadruddin Daya. He has been telling friends: "When I was sheriff, I did not know that the post could fetch so much publicity, so I did not try. All I did was plant eight palm trees at Marine Drive and watered them daily. But now that Mr. Chudasam has shown me what a high-profile position it is. I am going to request Mr. Pawar to give me one more opportunity as sheriff."
Finally, there is Mr. Pawar himself. He told me, in strictest confidence: "People think I want to be prime minister and take over from Rajiv Gandhi one day. They are mistaken. All I want to be is sheriff, that is a real high-profile job."