More to memorial than Thackeray memory
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Interestingly, veteran Sena MP Manohar Joshi who first made the Shivaji Park memorial call is blamed for the party losing ground in its citadel of Dadar in Central Mumbai, where the ground is located. Earlier this year, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena swept all the seven municipal corporation seats here, with Thackeray reportedly summoning Joshi for an explanation.
Joshi's remarks are being read as political manoeuvring within the Sena to bolster his position. He has pressed the matter despite Thackeray's son Uddhav himself appealing that the memorial not be marred by controversy and that they be allowed a quiet mourning.
His memorial demand also callously ignores the fact that apart from being Thackeray's political home ground, Shivaji Park is also a playground to protect which locals have approached the court — political parties, incidentally, have opposed Grade I heritage tag to it. The court had declared it a silence zone and prohibited any rallies or functions.
A stickler for rules, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan — with whom both Uddhav and Raj Thackeray incidentally share a special rapport — has stuck to his guns that a memorial at the park is not possible.
Ironically, what has remained unsaid is that the clamour for a memorial is for a leader who refused to write his biography and did not want any statues built in his lifetime. During a launch of a photo biography in 2005 by nephew Raj, Thackeray had said that his photo biography was not his story, but that of the Sena.
Swatee is a special correspondent based in Mumbai