Shivaji Park no go, BMC searches site for grand Thackeray memorial

Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has stolen the march over Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in clearing grounds for a memorial of late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. While TMC has almost finalised a decision on setting up of the monument outside its own office, BMC is still scouting for an appropriate spot under its jurisdiction, where a similar dedicatory structure can be erected without any resistance. A fact worth noting is that Shiv Sena is at the helm of affairs in both civic bodies.

Paying homage: Many leaders from Shiv Sena as well as other parties have supported the proposal put forth by Shiv Sena’s Yashodhar Phanse of constructing a grand memorial of Thackeray at Shivaji Park. Pic/Neha Parekh

BMC fears building a memorial at Shivaji Park — as Thackeray supporters have demanded — would invite opposition from many quarters. So standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale is planning to form a commission to zero in on a particular area in the city where a massive memorial can be built. Rahul said, “BMC also wants a huge memorial of the great leader to be built in the city and wants to create a replica of the man Balasaheb was.

Hence, the team that will be formed will sit with the Thackeray family and senior Shiv Sena leaders to take their advice, and will also consult Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Only then will we finalise a setting for the memorial.

This we will do as soon as possible, as we too are eager for the monument to come up.” On the other hand, many leaders from Sena as well as other parties have come up with their pet proposals — while one wants the planned Navi Mumbai airport to be named after the late leader, another has demanded the same for the Nhava-Sheva coastal road. Interestingly, many Congress and NCP councillors too have supported the proposal put forth by Shiv Sena’s Yashodhar Phanse of constructing a grand memorial of Thackeray at Shivaji Park.

The general body convention of the corporation on Thursday saw a range of such demands as the meet was called to pay homage to Thackeray. Where MNS group leader Dilip Lande broke down while narrating his experiences with Thackeray, others kept peddling their proposals. Yashodhar Phanse, said, “I have been a true Sainik all my life and because of Balasaheb I have this identity today. He had envisioned the Nhava-Sheva coastal road, so having it named after him will be great way of paying tribute to the great man.”

“He was a man who had international stature, as he was also a cartoonist. So, naming the Navi Mumbai airport after him would be a mark of respect consistent with his eminence,” BJP’s group leader Dilip Patel said. 

Rather than naming these important civic projects after him and creating a memorial, what is important is to keep alive his importance and what he did for Marathi culture. Mumbai’s spirit, which he ignited, must be kept alive.
— Nitai Mehta, founder and trustee of Praja Foundation

We cannot name the whole city after Bal Thackeray. With all due respect to the man he was and whatever he did for the Marathi manoos, naming all the important projects after him is not right. There are many others who deserve this honour. But, building a memorial is fine.
— Anandini Thakoor, a member of Khar Residents’ Association and chairperson of H-west Federation 

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