State Cabinet approves Rs 100 crore for Bal Thackeray memorial

Updated: Jan 23, 2019, 15:02 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

The move signals a patch-up between the two parties caught in a tussle ever since their 2014 Lok Sabha alliance

A puja will be conducted at the memorial site (the Mayor's former residence at Dadar’s Shivaji Park) on Wednesday
A puja will be conducted at the memorial site (the Mayor's former residence at Dadar’s Shivaji Park) on Wednesday

A much-delayed memorial to late Bal Thackeray has got a massive boost as the State Cabinet on Tuesday approved financial assistance of Rs 100 crore for it. The decision of the BJP government which shares power with the Shiv Sena is seen as an effort to build bridges with the estranged partner.

Sources said that the Thackeray family and Sena leaders would conduct a small puja at the memorial site - the Mayor's former residence near Dadar's Shivaji Park - on Wednesday. CM Devendra Fadnavis has also been invited for the puja. The Sena founder passed away six years ago in November 2012 and the demand for a memorial was raised immediately after.

The late leader's son and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray heads the trust that is entrusted with the task of turning the heritage bungalow into a grand memorial which will also have a museum.

The heritage site admeasuring 11,550 sq metres was identified by the Sena and the CM had approved its handing over to the trust. The mayor has since moved to another residence.

In line with the heritage conservation regulations, no major changes would be made to the structure and the surrounding green cover would not be destroyed. The cash-strapped government has asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to contribute Rs 100 crore for the memorial. Cabinet minister for finance and planning and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said the grant should not be seen from a political lens. "Balasaheb was dear to us all. We want to have a memorial that suits his stature. As far as a pre-poll alliance with the Sena is concerned we are confident that we will come together," he said.

No alliance announcement yet
Though the Sena leaders have rejected reports that the two parties are in talks for sharing seats in Lok Sabha, the development indicates that the partners are inching closer to each other ahead of the elections.

The ruling partners, who are in a post-poll alliance in the state and pre-poll alliance in the Parliament, have not been on good terms in the last four years. The Sena continues to share power, but acts as a principal opposition party, accusing the BJP of ill-treatment since a massive victory in 2014. They parted ways ahead of the State Assembly polls four years ago and the Sena isn't sure whether it should continue the pact in the Lok Sabha. However, the BJP seems willing to woo the partner, owing to its need for associates to ensure a good number of MPs from Maharashtra.

The BJP's initiative in offering a grant and the Sena's preparedness to organise a special premiere of Bal Thackeray biopic for PM Narendra Modi in Delhi may just have the partners mending ways, said a BJP leader.

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