Even as the protracted legal battle between rival Shiv Sena factions rages, a tussle has erupted between the Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led groups over who is the real heir of Bal Thackeray’s legacy ahead of the 10 th death anniversary of the Shiv Sena founder on November 17.
Fresh sparks flew on Wednesday over the proposed Bal Thackeray memorial to come up at Dadar’s iconic Shivaji Park with BJP MLC Prasad Lad, whose party is allied to Mr. Shinde’s ‘Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena’, demanded the Maharashtra government take over the upcoming memorial while pointedly remarking that “a memorial cannot belong to any family or person” (read Thackeray clan).
Taking a veiled jibe at Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who took stock of the progress of the memorial work along with Chief Minister Mr. Shinde, said the memorial was “for the people” and that ought not to be used for “any private meeting.”
“The memorial is for the people and will belong to them… we are not interested in who is part of the managing committee [alluding to Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray being part of the committee]. When I was CM, I had passed legislation and had handed over the land for the memorial while securing an approval from the MMRDA for getting the work done. With Eknath Shinde becoming Chief Minister, he is giving the project impetus,” said Mr. Fadnavis.
Remarking that the memorial to Bal Thackeray would be a historic monument, Mr. Shinde said 50% of the civic work was already over and the project would be completed ahead of its schedule in 2023.
When Mr. Uddhav Thackeray was Chief Minister heading the MVA government prior to Mr. Shinde’s revolt, the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) had approved a budget of ₹400 crore to construct the proposed memorial which is to come up at the site of the erstwhile Mumbai mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park.
The initial cost of the memorial, proposed soon after Bal Thackeray’s death in 2012 had been estimated at ₹89 crore. The completed project is to showcase the Sena founder’s political journey, his works (including his iconic political cartoons) along with 2D and 3D works detailing the Sena founder’s life and the Shiv Sena’s history.
Following the split within the Sena after Mr. Shinde’s revolt which led to the toppling of Mr. Thackeray’s MVA government, the Shinde faction has been trying to appropriate Bal Thackeray’s legacy by accusing Uddhav of forsaking his father’s ideals by allying with the Congress and the NCP.
Ahead of the anniversary on Thursday, Uddhav camp loyalist and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut took pot-shots at Mr. Shinde and his rebel faction.
“Those seeking Balasaheb’s blessings have every right to pay obeisance at the memorial site, but they must keep their ‘dagger’ aside [referring to Mr. Shinde’s betrayal]…history has shown that whosoever has betrayed Bal Thackeray has been finished off,” said Mr. Raut.
Another Thackeray loyalist, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Ambadas Danve said the rebel Sena faction had no right to seek Balasheb’s blessings as they had “destroyed Balasaheb’s party.”
“They have pulled down his son [Uddhav Thackeray] from the CM’s post and treacherously joined hands with the BJP. They have forsaken Balasaheb,” said Mr. Danve.