The Shiv Sena has finally removed the makeshift memorial for late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray from Shivaji Park, a month after his demise. On Tuesday morning, while Sena workers removed the structure from the park, a simultaneous proposal was sent to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) administration requesting permission for the ‘Smruti Chauthara’ monument in Thackeray’s memory near the existing Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue.
Yesterday, MiD DAY had reported about Thackeray’s memorial remaining in the park even after the party’s promised deadline to shift it. (‘Sena fails to shift Thackeray memorial by own deadline’).
The proposal was put before the group leaders meeting presided by Mayor Sunil Prabhu, held in the BMC headquarters. Along with all leaders of political parties, Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte, Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar and Mohan Adtani also attended the meeting.
Yashodhar Phanse, Sena leader has drafted a proposal to build a landscape without any construction on a 20x40 sq feet area in the corner of Shivaji Park. Mayor Sunil Prabhu said, “It will be only a soil landscape without any ashes. We just want to keep our leader’s memory alive.” He added that this would be only the first phase and the Sena would later go for a bigger garden after it obtained all the necessary permissions.
Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Samajwadi Party (SP) took a neutral stand and did not oppose the move.
MNS raised the issue of safety. “Who will guard the ‘Smruti Chauthara’ 24 hours a day, and who will be responsible if any desecration takes place?” asked Dilip Lande, MNS leader. He also said that the party was not opposing the demand, but was not ready to support it without certain conditions. “If the BMC administration assures us about security of the ‘Smruti Chauthara’ we will support the proposal,” he added. The MNS have also demanded a better location for the memorial, though they have not specified any.
The Congress, NCP and SP too were unclear about their stand. “If the rules and regulations permit the ‘Chauthara’ we have no objection. The administration should consider all aspects,” said Dnyanraj Nikam, opposition leader.
The municipal commissioner however will examine the feasibility of the demand before a decision is reached. “We will examine the site and also consider the Legal, Garden and Development Plan departments’ remarks,” said BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte.
What’s in a name?
In a group leaders’ meeting, the Sena has put forward its first amended proposal of naming the spot where Bal Thackeray’s memorial will be situated as ‘Shiv Tirth’. The opposition parties, Congress, NCP and Samajwadi Party opposed the proposal saying that the Sena cannot name a small portion of the park. The proposal however, was kept pending on the agenda, which will be discussed in the future. Rais Shaikh, SP leader pointed out that the same proposal was brought to the table in 1987, and was rejected by Sena leaders in a general body meeting held then.