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New row over Indu Mill: Babasaheb or Balasaheb?

The RPI(A) has strongly objected to the MNS proposal to use Indu Mill land for a memorial to Bal Thackeray, saying even the Shiv Sena supremo had been in favour of a Babasaheb Ambedkar memorial on the mill land.

The MNS says Indu Mill would be ideal for a memorial to Thackeray, who passed away last week, since there will not be enough space at Shivaji Park to do justice to a man of his stature.


Memorial dispute: The RPI(A), which has wanted an Ambedkar memorial on Indu Mill land for long, accuses the MNS of playing politics by coming up with its memorial proposal. Pic/Neha Parekh

The RPI(A), which has wanted an Ambedkar memorial on Indu Mill land for long, accuses the MNS of playing politics by coming up with its memorial proposal.

According to the MNS, Shivaji Park is a smaller place than Indu Mill and any space allotted there would not be sufficient to put on display Thackeray’s works, from his caricatures to his writings over the decades.

Many MNS men, including party chief Raj Thackeray, are sentimental about Balasaheb as most of them were part of the Shiv Sena once. They say they will need a bigger place than Shivaji Park can provide for the memorial and so it should come up at Indu Mill.

On Thursday MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande proposed the memorial to Thackeray should be constructed at Indu Mill, which is hardly 100 metres from Shivaji Park.

Unlike the MNS, the RPI(A) is politically aligned with the Shiv Sena, but does not want to cede an inch of its claim over Indu Mill land as the party represents Dalit interests and views Ambedkar as a demigod.

The RPI(A) feels the MNS is using the Thackeray memorial issue to gain political mileage. Its members claim the MNS does not want the memorial to come up at Shivaji Park as the open space is bang opposite their leader’s house, but since the party led by Raj Thackeray cannot openly say this, it is raising the space issue and suggesting Indu Mill.

“Even when Balasaheb was alive, he had categorically mentioned that Indu Mill is only for the Ambedkar memorial,” Arjun Dangle, general secretary of RPI(A), said. “Raj Thackeray’s party cannot directly speak against the memorial, and hence they are now trying to say it in a different way and are bringing Indu Mill into the picture. The MNS for sometime has also been spreading rumours in Dadar that we want to construct a dharmasala at Indu Mill when our main motive is to come up with a memorial and a research centre for studies on the life and work of Babasaheb Ambedkar.”

Dangle said it had already been settled that Indu Mill land would be used for an Ambedkar memorial. “It’s a known fact that Indu Mill is reserved for Ambedkar’s memorial and still these people are now making such demands,” Dangle said. “It is nothing but a case of playing politics in the name of Thackeray and Ambedkar to create conflict among their followers.”

The MNS denies any politics in its demand. A day after making his Thackeray memorial proposal, Deshpande yesterdayclaimed that he was sticking to his demand for Indu Mill land.

“Indu Mill is huge and has space; the demand for Indu Mill is being made because having a memorial for Balasaheb there would mean that all his works — articles, caricatures and everything else about his movement — can be put on display at the memorial,” he said. “The space at Shivaji Park is too little for a memorial for a leader like Saheb. We want a memorial from which the youth and future generations can learn about the work of Balasaheb.”

An Ambedkar follower countered the MNS argument by saying that if space was the issue, then the MNS could ask for Kohinoor Mills and leave Indu Mill alone.

“We will help them in getting the (Kohinoor) mill land and get the finances done too,” the Ambedkarite said, requesting anonymity. 

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