While lakhs of people paid homage to Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray on his first death anniversary at the Shivaji Park ground yesterday, Sharmila Thackeray, wife of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray, was spotted brisk-walking along the jogging track at the ground.
Sharmila arrived at the ground at 5.30 pm and walked for an hour, occasionally stopping in her tracks to acknowledge local residents. But Raj Thackeray’s better half did not step into the venue to pay tribute to the Sena supremo, who was cremated here last year.
Raj Thackeray himself, and everyone from his family, gave the memorial spot a skip. Accompanied by a friend, Sharmila marched oblivious to the large crowds inside the park. The people were waiting to catch a glimpse of the newly constructed landscape garden in memory of Thackeray Sr.
Man Friday absent
Bal Thackeray’s Man Friday Champalal Thapa was also not spotted at the site. Thapa remained by the Sena supremo’s side unfailingly for over 27 years, cooking for him and helping him in his daily routine. He was seen on the hearse during Bal Thackeray’s funeral procession from his Kalanagar, Bandra residence to Shivaji Park, also participating in the last rites along with the rest of the family. Senior Sena leaders said that Thapa was unwell and was away at his native place in Nepal.
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray along with his wife Rashmi and sons Aaditya and Tejas visited the memorial site at 10.30 am and stayed through out the proceedings. A host of top politicians including the likes of L K Advani, Sharad Pawar and several others also paid their respects (see pictures below).
The memorial erected by the BMC is near the Shivaji statue at Shivaji Park and falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). The civic body claims that no construction was carried out using any metal that is prohibited under the CRZ.
Under fire for criticising the incumbent Sena leadership, party veteran Manohar Joshi arrived at the spot despite rumours that he would skip the event. Talking to the media, Joshi said, “Balasaheb took out the fear within me a long time ago. The Shiv Sainiks are mine and I am a Shiv Sainik.” Two months ago, Joshi was heckled by Sena workers during its annual Dussehra rally at the same venue for questioning Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership.