Thackeray’s eldest son Jaidev says he’s against a memorial at Shivaji Park. “It’s a playground and should remain as it is.”

Senior politicians and Shiv Sena followers converged at Shivaji Park on Sunday to pay tributes to party founder Bal Thackeray on his first death anniversary. Among those in attendance were BJP senior leaders L.K. Advani and Gopinath Munde, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, along with his daughter MP Supriya Sule, and party leader Chhagan Bhujbal.

Though people from all corners of the State arrived at Shivaji Park, where Bal Thackeray’s funeral had taken place, the number turned out to be much less than expected by party leaders.

Sena president Uddhav’s estranged cousin and chief of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Raj Thackeray was conspicuous by his absence. This has raised a question mark over a possible reunion between the MNS chief and Bal Thackeray’s son Uddhav, ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

The former Lok Sabha Speaker and senior Sena leader, Manohar Joshi, who is currently sharing an uncomfortable relationship with Uddhav, was among the first to arrive at Shivaji Park.

Last month, Mr. Joshi had criticised the Sena leadership for not being able to construct Thackeray’s memorial. His words had drawn ire from Sena activists.

No to memorial

Amid demands to build Thackeray’s memorial at Shivaji Park, his eldest son Jaidev made it clear on Sunday that he does not support this demand. “It’s a playground and should remain as it is. It doesn’t even require the statue of Balasaheb. He is in the heart of lakhs of Sena activists,” he said at a press conference. He also ruled out the option of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, where the Sena wanted to build the memorial.

Many of those who turned up at Shivaji Park could not control their emotions while offering floral tributes to their leader.

“I have been idolising him since my school days. He was my inspiration. I am yet to realise that he is not there any more to guide us. I will continue to follow his thoughts throughout my life,” said Meenalal Jadhav, a hawker from Nashik. Mr. Jadhavsaid leaders like Thackeray will never be born again.

The younger generation too, was present in large numbers.