Amidst great fanfare, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray performed a ritual cleansing of the icon at Shivaji Park in Dadar yesterday; if all goes well, other statues in the city to be scrubbed clean as well
In a bid to secure Shiv Sena's re-election in the 2011 civic body elections, Uddhav Thackeray does not mind getting his hands dirty. And what better way to clean up the civic body's somewhat soiled public image than create a trail of publicity around the task of cleaning up the statue of Shivaji, the state's most popular and legendary hero?

Water homage: Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray pours water culled from
17 rivers and 6 water bodies, to commemorate Shivaji's coronation
ceremony 400 years ago. PICS/PRADEEP DHIVAr

The BMC flagged off its drive to clean up the iconic statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at Shivaji Park in Dadar yesterday. If the drive, which is being conducted on a pilot basis, is successful, then the clean-up agency will be appointed to perform the arduous task of scrubbing clean all the statues spread across the city.

At the crack of dawn last morning, Thackeray performed a jalabhishek of the statue, anointing it with water culled from 17 rivers and six water bodies collected by a trust. This was done to commemorate a similar ceremony conducted during Shivaji's coronation 400 years ago. This was followed by a musical performance by an orchestra, which concluded at 8 am.

Many Sena loyalists and leaders attended the function.

"60 litres of water were collected by the Shri Swami Samarth Trust in Mumbai, before Dussehra. They wanted Uddhavji to pour it over the statue," said Rahul Shewale, a corporator and Shiv Sena member.

Shewale insisted that the clean-up work of the statue would be prioritised, and the quality of work being done by the appointed agency would be inspected before conferring upon it the responsibility of cleaning other statues in the city as well. "The company cleans structures using hi-tech machinery, which consumes less water and electricity. The cost would be decided on the basis of the size and volume of the statue. This is part of our initiative to beautify the city," said Shewale.

On May 31, MiD DAY had reported on the BMC's promise to clean statues in the city. However, in the months that followed, the civic body carried out no such operation, with the 12,000 statues in the city lying unattended in their sordid, soiled condition. Shewale said, "We will see to it that the structures do not attract the attention of tourists and visitors for their deplorable and squalid condition, but for their beauty and historical significance."

Waters of India
Water, which would be used for the jalabhishek of the statue is collected from the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Kaveri, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Wainganga, Tapi, Bhima, Godavari, Sindhu, Satlej, Krishna, Panchganga, Gayatri, Savitri, Son as well as from Mansarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pushkar Dham, Pampa, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.