Political leaders shed rivalry to mark Bal Thackeray's death anniversary

CM Devendra Fadnavis and MNS chief Raj Thackeray were among those who had thronged to Balasaheb Thackeray Smriti Udyan yesterday to pay their respects to the Shiv Sena founder on his second death anniversary

Even with the political scenario in the state changing continually, and while the Shiv Sena’s equation with the BJP and MNS are lukewarm at best, none of it seemed to matter as CM Devendra Fadnavis and MNS chief Raj Thackeray visited Balasaheb Thackeray Smriti Udyan at Shivaji Park yesterday, to pay their respects to Bal Thackeray on his second death anniversary.

Uddhav Thackeray paying his respects to his late father
Uddhav Thackeray paying his respects to his late father

As the CM entered the park in Dadar on Monday, the former received a quiet welcome, while the CM was met with thundering chants of “amar rahe, amar rahe, Bal Thackeray amar rahe” from the Sainiks. Undeterred, however, Fadnavis announced his intention to have a memorial built to commemorate Bal Thackeray.

CM Devendra Fadnavis announced his intention to build a memorial for Bal Thackeray on the occasion of the Sena founder’s death anniversary yesterday. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
CM Devendra Fadnavis announced his intention to build a memorial for Bal Thackeray on the occasion of the Sena founder’s death anniversary yesterday. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Addressing the media, he said, “We will soon appoint a committee to look into the feasibility of such a project, and try to build a memorial in his (Bal Thackeray) name soon.” Last year, Raj’s wife, Sharmila, was seen circling the park, but she did not enter the memorial space.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and MNS head Raj Thackeray

Raj himself had given the ceremony a skip last year, but this year, the anniversary seemed to have brought the two Thackeray cousins together. Accompanied by a few of his loyalists, the MNS chief seemed engaged in the rites conducted to mark Thackeray’s passing.

While the anniversary served to reunite some yesterday, for some others, it meant a long wait in the queues to pay respects to the Shiv Sena founder. Top political leaders were granted immediate access to the park and the ongoing ceremonies, but Sena supporters and party members on lower rungs did not have it so easy.

A huge crowd had turned up to pay their respects to the late leader, and male party workers and supporters had to wait in long queues before they could offer their prayers. As there were fewer female visitors, they were given easier access, however.

Forgetting feuds for a day
Yesterday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and MNS head Raj Thackeray were seen interacting during the ceremony commemorating Sena founder Bal Thackeray on the occasion of his second death anniversary.

The Thackeray cousins were also seen together two weeks ago, when Raj’s daughter, Urvashi, had met with an accident. Uddhav and his wife had visited Raj and his daughter in the hospital then.

Happy to help
The three lanes leading to the park’s entrances were packed with various food stalls and water counters for the visitors. The stalls on the three lanes were overseen by MLAs Sada Sarvankar, Ajay Chaudhary and Sunil Shinde, as food and water was distributed to about 20,000 people.

Nisha Rath, a volunteer at one of the food counters, said, “MLA Sada Sarvankar (Mahim) sponsored this initiative and we are here to help people as we have a lot of Sainiks coming in to pray.”

Voices

Suresh Mohite, Sena follower
The loss of Saheb (Thackeray) is big and we still cannot believe he is not here. I had to wait in the queue for over an hour, but we had come for the ceremony last year and will continue going for it in the future.

Aziza Patel, Bandra (East) resident
We hardly had to wait, and got our darshan in ten minutes, as there was no long queue for females. Unlike last year, when there was no such place for the ceremony, this year it was held in the park, and so we will continue to come here every year.

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