Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday told a TV channel that he would not break the rules to build a memorial to the late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray.
After his death on November 17, Shiv Sainiks have been making a demand for a suitable memorial at Shivaji Park where he was cremated with special permission. Initially the state government said it was yet to receive a proposal for the memorial but Mr Chavan said that he would not bend the rules for a memorial since the legally it was not permitted in the Park. He said reiterated that there was no formal proposal as yet for a memorial.
The 28 acre Shivaji Park is under litigation after an NGO filed a case in the Bombay high court demanding its notification as a silent zone which was done. One more issue in the litigation is pending – as to whether the Park is a playground or a recreation ground. Shivaji Park residents and the Walkers Ecological Movement (WECOM) have opposed a memorial at the Park already but are waiting to decide a course of action after a formal proposal has been made. Already there are restrictions on public meetings and the court has to approve of every meeting at the Park.
On Thursday in the Brihanmumbai municipal corporation meeting, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) raised a demand for a memorial to Mr Thackeray at the Indu Mills compound, where the Republican Party of India (RPI) Athavale group and others have been demanding a memorial for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Today the MNS said it had not demanded the Indu Mills land for a memorial to Mr Thackeray . Rather than pushing for statues and memorials, the MNS believed in doing work for public good.
Earlier in the day, Mr Chavan reiterated his commitment to clear the Indu Mill land for a memorial to Dr. Ambedkar by December 6.
A memorial to Dr. Ambedkar would enhance the atmosphere of the Chaityabhoomi, said Mr. Chavan at a meeting with senior state administration authorities in which Leader of Opposition of the Legislative Assembly, Eknath Khadse was also present.
The 12.5 acre land in Dadar in Central Mumbai, once owned by the now-defunct Indu Mill, is currently under possession of the National Textile Corporation (NTC) that is yet to hand over the plot to the state government.
“I have already had deliberations with Union Textile Minister Anand Sharma and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has responded positively to the proposal,” said Mr. Chavan.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut meanwhile clarified that the final word on Bal Thackeray’s memorial would rest with the Shiv Sainiks.
“No other party need speak on the issue before the Sena takes a call,” said Mr. Raut.
Meanwhile, the OBC wing of the, congress’ ally, the National Congress Party on Friday threatened an agitation by December 6 if the mill land was cleared for a memorial other than the proposed one to Dr. Ambedkar.
The RPI is opposed to the Indu Mills land being used for any other purpose other than a memorial to Dr Ambedkar.