Chavan: Will remove Thackeray memorial from Shivaji Park

FP

The Maharashtra government has taken a "tactical" decision to remove the temporary structure built by the Shiv Sena in Shivaji Park where Bal Thackeray was cremated. The government has advised Mumbai Police to be prepared for any eventuality.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told The Indian Express, "The permissions were given for a day. It will now be treated as an encroachment and removed... It has been left to the Mumbai Police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to decide when and how to act."

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray spoke to Chavan on Wednesday morning and said his party was willing to shift the temporary structure a little. The Sena has demanded a 10 sq m area close to the Shivaji statue near one of the entrances to the park to keep the urn containing Thackeray's ashes, and to build a samadhi.

The chief minister has, however, requested the Sena to keep the urn elsewhere — one option being the Mayor's bungalow — and reminded it that the government had shown considerable goodwill by allowing the funeral at Shivaji Park, complete with state honours. "It is time to reciprocate," Chavan said.

The politics of the no-trust motion in the state assembly this week — which the Sena proposed but subsequently allowed to lapse on Wednesday — was seen as the Sena's way to counter a prevalent impression in the state that the party, and specifically Uddhav, was cosying up to Chavan.

The chief minister's seeming hardline on the Shivaji Park memorial appears to be a tactic to counter the same impression, albeit in a different way.

Chavan conceded that grounds for criticism may be found in the state funeral to Thackeray, who was indicted by the Srikrishna Commission for the Mumbai riots. "It is true that this is a grey area. Some people can accuse me. But it is also true that there is no clarity on who can be given a state funeral," he said.

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