Shiv Sena's tantrum for Malabar Hill property delaying Thackeray memorial?

Mar 08, 2018, 11:28 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Refusing to shift the mayor's bungalow to Byculla zoo property, party wants house where CM's close aide stays

A memorial for late Bal Thackeray has been proposed at Shivaji Park mayor's bungalow
A memorial for late Bal Thackeray has been proposed at Shivaji Park mayor's bungalow

Is Shiv Sena responsible for the delay in deciding where the new mayor's bungalow will be? With the current mayor's bungalow at Shivaji Park, Dadar, to be taken over by a public trust to convert it into a memorial for Sena founder Bal Thackeray, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had planned to move Mumbai’s mayor to Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan’s heritage bungalow. The Sena, however, rejected that plan and instead insisted on a property currently occupied by a state government official at Malabar Hill. But the party is unlikely to get its way easily as the official residing there is known to be a close aide of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

While BMC is working to take back physical possession of the bungalow from the state, Sena doesn't seem too inclined to push for it — Congress moved the proposal to retake the bungalow; Sena kept mum and the mayor merely directed the BMC chief to take "appropriate action", clearly showing the snail’s pace the issue is moving at.

Sena sources claimed that it is the BJP that is trying to make the official stay put in the bungalow to make matters difficult for the civic body, and that's what is delaying Thackeray memorial. Apart from blaming its former ally, party leaders are also pointing fingers at the BMC administration, saying it should have started the process to take over the bungalow as soon as Sena had shown willingness to shift here.

A senior Sena leader said, "We want our mayor to move to a place that's as per the stature of the designation; also, moving to Byculla zoo would have affected the animals, considering the frequent meetings and gatherings that take place at the official residence of city’s first citizen. We had showed our willingness to move to Malabar Hill last year, and the [BMC] administration has done nothing concrete. Once the time is right, we will start following it up rigorously."

Property matters
After former mayor Snehal Ambekar and current Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar refused to shift to the zoo property, citing animals' well being, Additional Municipal Commissioner Pravin Darade started staying there. Their refusal has left the civic body with very few choices.

Speaking on the Malabar Hill property, civic sources said security to that place has been withdrawn. "The BMC won't be spending a single penny on that bungalow anymore; it will have to be borne by officials residing there," said a civic official.

Mahadeshwar said, "I have directed the civic chief to take necessary action." While BJP group leader Manoj Kotak was not reachable, Ravi Raja, Opposition leader in BMC, said, "Whatever issues the two parties have among themselves, it [Malabar Hill structure] is a BMC property. And whether a mayor's bungalow or just another BMC property, it should be in civic body's possession."

BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta was not available for comment.

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