Toughening its stand on the Shiv Sena demand for a memorial dedicated to the late Sena chief Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park, the Congress on Saturday said no memorial should be allowed alongside that of warrior king Shivaji at the park.
Congress state president Manikrao Thakre said, “Shivaji Maharaj is a god for lakhs in Maharashtra. There is a memorial for him at Shivaji Park and we feel no other memorial should come up alongside his.” The Congress is likely to make a representation to the chief minister asking him to not allow any other memorial at Shivaji Park.
The demand for a memorial for Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park has become a contentious issue in the state with the Shiv Sena insisting it should be be built. Shivaji Park has a special place for the Sena not only because Thackeray was cremated there, but also because the public rally announcing the formation of the party had been held here. The Shiv Sena, which refers to Shivaji Park as ‘Shiv Teerth’, holds its annual Dussehra rally there.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had earlier said the government had not yet received a proposal for the Thackeray memorial and even if it did, allowing a memorial would be against existing rules.
Sena leaders have struck a militant posture on the issue with senior leader Manohar Joshi saying that Sena activists would take the law into their hands to ensure a memorial for Thackeray is built at the park.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut had also said that the government should not interfere in the memorial issue and leave it to the Sainiks on deciding where they want a memorial for their leader to be built.
Citizens’ groups and resident associations staying around the area are also opposed to the idea of a memorial at Shivaji Park.
The area is one of the few open spaces left in the city and was designated a park by the Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1925. It has since played a seminal role in the history of Mumbai.