‘Daddy’ and the daughter

Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli’s daughter Geeta is poised to tell all in a book on her father

‘Daddy’ and the daughter

Gautam S Mengle

Geeta Gawli, the daughter of gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli, is currently working on a tell-all book about her father, which is expected to hit the stands later this year.

Arun Gawli was promoted as a ‘Hindu’ don by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in the 1990s as against Dawood Ibrahim who was the ‘Muslim’ don who gained much notoriety in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Confirming the development in an exclusive interaction with National Herald, Geeta, who is a corporator from Dagdi Chawl, Gawli’s Mumbai headquarters, said that the main focus of the book will be to show how Gawli was as a father.

Growing up amidst all the controversies surrounding her father, Geeta’s childhood can hardly be described as a normal one. However, she insists, Gawli never let her feel cheated out of her childhood.

“For us, he was simply dad. No matter what anyone else says about him, I always remember him as the best father. He cared for me, groomed me,” Geeta, who is the eldest among all her siblings, says. Incidentally, Gawli’s nickname was Daddy among his followers.

The book will be published through journalist and author S. Hussain Zaidi’s imprint, and the idea for the book was born in a conversation between Geeta and Zaidi.

“We were randomly talking and he planted the idea in my head during that time. A lot of people were anyway telling me to write a book on my life, and when Zaidi said the same thing, I thought, why not? Everyone calls my father Daddy but no one knows what he was actually like as a dad.

There are so many memories associated with him. The controversies surrounding him did make it difficult but he gave us the strength to deal with them as well,” Geeta recounts. For now, Geeta is only enjoying the writing process and not worrying about the technicalities. “There are so many emotions that are coming out now that I am finally putting all my experiences on paper,” she says.

On being asked whether the book will have any explosive revelations, she only laughs and asks, “What revelations will a common person’s life have?”

The humility that Geeta exudes is apparent not just in words but also in her working. While many people, after getting money or power, tend to make a vulgar display of the same, this is conspicuously absent from Geeta’s life. She still stays in the same lane where she grew up, in the middle of the crowded and bustling Byculla locality. A simple arched gate proclaims the name of her area: Dagdi Chawl. There are no fancy decorations, no massive idols or cut-outs and no gun-toting bodyguards.

“People who come here know that they are coming here to seek help and that they will get it. That much is enough for me. Every person who comes here has to go back happy. Nothing else matters,” Geeta says.

This seems to have been the mantra that has allowed her to survive in the murky, cut-throat field of politics for the last 16 years as well.

“I was a child when I started my career in politics. I knew nothing about how the world works, had no knowledge about duniyadari. All I knew was that I am here to serve the people and that is exactly what I focused on. Everything I learned about politics, I learned on the job. I focused less on the politics part and more on the people’s welfare. The rest is there for everyone to see,” she says.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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