Sena set to give up claim to Shivaji Park

In backdoor negotiations, seeks alternative land in Mumbai for Thackeray memorial.

Shiv Sena is ready to give up the fight for a Bal Thackeray memorial at Shivaji Park and renaming the ground Shiv Tirth if the state government provides it alternative land in Mumbai.

Party executive president Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan appear to have engaged emissaries to work out a formula to end the deadlock over Shivaji Park that has the potential to snowball into a law-and-order problem.

Sena wants CM to formally announce grant of land in the heart of Mumbai for the memorial. In the bargain, the party will withdraw claim to the Shivaji Park structure where last rites of Thackeray were performed.

Sena leader in the state assembly Subash Desai meet Uddhav Wednesday to discuss details. A senior party leader revealed, "Uddhav does not want Thackeray memorial to turn into a street battle. However, he would expect the government to consider sentiments of Sainiks who want a grand memorial to Thackeray."

The repositioning comes a day after the government directed security personnel to take complete charge of Shivaji Park.

One of the reasons for it is the lukewarm response Sena received on both issues from the masses.

A Sena MLA was candid. "Frankly speaking, both Thackeray memorial and renaming Shivaji Park were announced without much consultation in the party. Individual leaders became proactive hoping to galvanise the cadre on the emotive plank. But it backfired."

A lack of support from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray compounded problems for Sena.

MNS is more powerful in Dadar than Sena.

Senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi, who first demanded a Thackeray memorial at Shivaji Park, does not have mass appeal in the area.

The renaming was again a brainchild of Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut and the party feels the issue cannot be sustained.

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