The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Hall needs more room to accommodate both the living and the departed. While the atrium can presently seat 232 corporators, it is embellished with busts of 13 historic personalities.
However, the civic administration wants to increase the capacity to make room for 300 councillors, even as erstwhile public figures like Savitribai Phule, Prabodhankar Thackeray — father of Bal Thackeray— and Marathi poet VV Shirwadkar wait in line to be immortalised in clay. Now, corporators Ganesh Sanap and Vinod Shelar from Shiv Sena and BJP respectively have demanded that a statue of Bal Thackeray be accommodated in the same hall.
A senior civic official, however, said that it is very difficult to comply with the plea, as there is no space to erect a new statue. He said that the hall would have to be renovated to make room for more councillors, a process that will take at least a year. The BMC headquarters recently turned 129 years old and the hall is important historically.
“I am not aware about the latest demand by the BJP and Sena corporators. A decision will be taken in the group leaders’ meeting,” said JV Patgaonkar, city engineer, BMC.
Mayor Sunil Prabhu, who presides over the group leaders’ conventions, said, “The matter will be thrashed out in the group leaders’ meet, which will be held soon.
Prabhu, then leader of the House, had demanded in 2010 that a bust of Shirwadkar be instated in the hall, whereas former Nationalist Congress Party corporator Mangesh Bansod wrote to BMC asking for a statue of Savitribai Phule, who started India’s first school exclusively for women.
Stalwarts like Dadabhai Naoroji and Ferozshah Mehta in the pre-Independence era and many modern day politicians, including former chief minister and ex-Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi, PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal, and senior Congress MP Murli Deora, have presided over proceedings inside the hall.