BMC had rejected Shivaji Park renaming in 1987

In an attempt to cash in on the sentiments of Shiv Sena supporters and make the party presence felt in the absence of its chief Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena has been trying its best to keep alive the controversy surrounding Shivaji Park.

The memorial to Bal Thackeray
Homage: Shiv Sena workers have been keeping vigil at the makeshift memorial to Bal Thackeray where he was cremated on November 18. 

But little did the Shiv Sena leaders know when they proposed the renaming of the ground in Dadar from Shivaji Park to Shiv Tirth that in their haste they might be contradicting the stand taken by their own corporators in 1987.

Shivaji Park
Park politics: On January 5, 1987, Dnyaneshwar Gawde, a first-time Sena corporator at the time, had moved a notice of motion before the Market and Garden Committee seeking Shivaji Park be renamed Shiv Tirth. File pic

The Shiv Sena last week proposed in the BMC that the ground be renamed Shiv Tirth, about 25 years after a proposal to the same effect was rejected by the General Body meeting when the Shiv Sena-BJP ruled the BMC. A majority of Shiv Sena corporators had voted against the proposal back in 1987, when in fact they could have easily passed it with their numbers in the civic house.

On January 5, 1987, Dnyaneshwar Gawde, a first-time Shiv Sena corporator at the time, had moved a notice of motion before the Market and Garden Committee seeking Shivaji Park be renamed Shiv Tirth.

Passing first stage
The proposal and the decision on it (copy with MiD DAY) was discussed in the committee as well as in the deputy commissioner’s meeting held in G-North ward office and was cleared on April 10, 1987. The same resolution was sent to the General Body for its consideration on October 5, 1987, by the then municipal commissioner [letter number MDG 2081 (SGC 5796)]. The subject mentioned was “renaming ‘Shivaji Park’ to ‘Shiv Tirth’, refer Market and Garden Committee’s proposal number 215 dated January 8, 1987”.

In spite of the then civic chief’s letter saying “there is no administrative objection to renaming the ground as Shiv Tirth”, the proposal was rejected in the General Body on December 4, 1987.

According to senior Shiv Sena leaders active in those days, the reason that proposal was rejected was that though Bal Thackeray used to fondly call the ground Shiv Tirth out of respect for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, he never really wanted it to be officially renamed.

“If the Shiv Sena supremo had really wanted to rename the park, it could have easily been done by the BMC as unlike today, back then there was no need to take permissions from the Urban Development Department of the state or the municipal commissioner,” said Ramesh Prabhu, who was mayor in 1987.

A BMC official, who requested anonymity, confirmed that the corporation was the final authority in 1987 and, as per policy, the commissioner had to implement any General Body decision.

Ramesh Prabhu, who was made the mayor by the Shiv Sena with the blessings of Thackeray, said, “I cannot recollect the exact details of the issue as it is more than 20 years old now, but I can firmly say that if the Shiv Sena supremo had wanted the ground to be renamed, it would have certainly happened.”

Ravindra Pawar, a Congress corporator in 1987, also confirmed that the proposal was not cleared by the corporation then.

Gawde yesterday claimed that the resolution moved by him in 1987 was passed in the General Body meeting, but it was not followed up properly.

Last week, Shiv Sena’s Rahul Shewale, chairman of the Standing Committee of the BMC, again proposed that Shivaji Park be renamed Shiv Tirth. But yesterday he had scaled down his demand, saying that he did not want the entire ground renamed Shiv Tirth but only that limited portion of the ground where Thackeray was cremated.  

Mahim Park to Shivaji Park
Shivaji Park was called Mahim Park till 1927. On May10, 1927, the then corporator G B Nare proposed that Mahim Park should be renamed Shivaji Park to commemorate the tricentenary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s birth. The proposal was accepted after it was seconded by Avantikabai Gokhalay. 

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