Sena to get its CM on home turf today
Shivaji Park gears up to host around 400 farmers, several political bigwigs from across the country
All roads will lead to Shivaji Park on Thursday, when Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray will take oath as the next chief minister of Maharashtra, after being chosen the leader of the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
Hectic activity was witnessed throughout the day at Shivaji Park, where a crowd of over 50,000 is expected to gather on Thursday evening. All three parties have arranged for buses to ferry supporters to the venue from various parts of the State, besides Mumbai.
Shivaji Park has a special significance for the Shiv Sena, as its founder the late Balasaheb Thackeray would address people at the ground every Dussehra, a tradition Uddhav Thackeray still continues. Balasaheb Thackeray was also cremated in a corner of Shivaji Park, which Sainiks revere as Shivteerth, a holy place.
Art director Nitin Desai is designing the podium for the ceremony, which will begin at 6.40 p.m.
The Sena has invited about 400 farmers from various districts, including families of farmers who committed suicides. “This is our way of honouring them,” a Sena spokesperson said.
A couple from Sangli, Sanjay and Rupali Sawant, had walked to Pandharpur to pray to Lord Vitthal for a Shiv Sena chief minister. They once again took darshan at Pandharpur once news of Mr. Thackeray’s swearing-in came, and are special invitees.
Mr. Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar are known to have personally invited several national leaders. The Congress said that all its chief ministers and several senior party functionaries will be in attendance. Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and DMK leader M.K. Stalin have also been invited.
Sena MLA from Worli and Mr. Thackeray’s son, Aaditya, on Wednesday night flew to Delhi and called upon Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to thank them. He is believed to have extended personal invitations to them for the ceremony.
The Mumbai Police will deploy around 2,000 personnel at the ground to ensure security and law and order during the swearing-in ceremony.
Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok said that apart from the local police station staff, additional personnel from units like the State Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force and Riot Control Police have also been roped in, while patrolling around the area and routine checks have been stepped up.
The Mumbai Traffic Police, meanwhile, have banned parking of vehicles on 16 roads around the ground, and also put in place road closures and diversions, officers said.
(With PTI inputs)