Bhoomi pujan for Shivaji Memorial: Guest list from PM Narendra Modi's primo ride set

Updated: Dec 23, 2016, 10:11 IST | Dharmendra Jore

The final list of people accompanying the bhoomipujan has more VVIPs on it than political workers; clashes between BJP-Sena could bubble at event

Pic for representation
Pic for representation

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi sails into the Arabian Sea to perform the bhoomi pujan for the Shivaji Memorial on Saturday, it will not be with a collective of political workers, just a handful of VVIPs. So much so that the security personnel stationed at the spot and around it in the seas will outnumber the guests.

Honouring the ruling partner Shiv Sena's demand, the PM will be accompanied by Uddhav Thackeray in a hovercraft that will also carry five others to the islet. Following the PM's craft, which will be secured by the Special Protection Group and agencies working the Indian waters, the second vessel will carry Maratha ministers, a legislator and senior bureaucrats.

Also Read: Shivaji Maharaj memorial: Lalbaugcha Raja to lend its float for 'jalpoojan'

The city police will also be present everywhere — on the islet and on Girgaum Chowpatty from where the trip will start and end. Following the bhoomi and jalpujan, the group will proceed to the MMRDA ground in BKC for a public rally where the work on city's infrastructure projects will be launched.

Showcasing Maratha King
The spot from where the PM's entourage will head to the sea will highlight Shivaji's era with a huge display consisting of floats, statues, replicas of historic monuments and forts. "Descendants of families whose forefathers were in the service of Shivaji Maharaj have been invited to the BKC event, where they will be seated on a parallel dais to the PM's," said PWD and revenue minister Chandrakant Patil. He added that some 3,000 special invitees will attend the ceremony.

BJP all the way
In the meantime, BJP workers from across the state have mobilised to placate the Maratha community that has been on a warpath with the government in its demand for a quota in jobs and education. To that end, Mumbai will be painted saffron in next two days with all important roads, including the Sealink, being decorated in the party's colour.

In several towns, the BJP workers have already carried out processions to celebrate Shivaji Maharaj. The waters and earth, collected by party workers, will be taken in a procession called Rath Yatra from Chembur to the Gateway of India on Thursday and Fadnavis will receive it there. He will then hand it over to the PM on Saturday to perform the puja at the islet.

Read Story: Maha Govt to conduct Shivaji memorial event in grand manner

In the process, the BJP is trying to sideline the Sena, even as they are currently fighting for credit over the naming of the Ram Mandir Station. Along with Modi, Thackeray is expected to address the BKC rally, but the equation between the two leaders might be testy as they launch the campaign for the BMC polls, without having decided on a pre-poll pact.

Opposition to memorial
However, there is a section of the Maratha community that has opposed the memorial on several grounds such as the expenses the common people would incur to access the islet. It also believes that the memorial will not serve the purpose that the government has on its mind. A section of local fishermen, too, has threatened a protest on Saturday as they claim the memorial would harm fish in the Arabian Sea and affect their livelihood.

Who's on hovercraft 1?
> PM Narendra Modi
> CM Devendra Fadnavis
> Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray
> Chhatrapati Udayan Raje
> Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje
> Governor Vidyasagar Rao
> An unidentified priest

Hovercraft 2's invitees
> Subhash Desai
> Eknath Shinde (both Sena)
> Chandrakant Patil
> Vinod Tawde
> MLC Vinayak Mete (all BJP)
> Sena MP Arvind Sawant
> BJP MLA Mangalprabhat Lodha
> Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya
> PWD Secretary Ashish Kumar Singh

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