Sena softens stand on Shivaji Park memorial

The opposition from different quarters in constructing a memorial for the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park has now forced the Sena to soften its stand. One of the most vocal proponents of the memorial, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, has now claimed that the party was not insisting for a memorial at Shivaji Park and was scouting for land apart from Shivaji Park for the memorial.

"Shiv Teerth is a holy place for us. But we were never insisting for a memorial there," Raut said.

He claimed that people seemed to have made a needless controversy over the entire issue and not understood the feelings of Shiv Sainiks. "On Shiv Teerth no memorial will come up but people have to understand that the place is holy for us."

The Sena likes to refer to Shivaji Park as Shiv Teerth. The place where Bal Thackeray was cremated has turned into a small shrine with people coming from various parts of the state to pay their homage to the leader.

Raut said the party would look at a larger parcel of land to build a suitable memorial for Thackeray.

The state government is keen that the Sena remove the makeshift shrine that they have created for Thackeray from Shivaji Park.

Senior state officials as well as the police had held a meeting to ensure how the shrine could be removed without creating any trouble.

The Shiv Sena has also not made it very clear about when it would remove the structure.

The memorial for Bal Thackeray has become a contentious issue in the state with the Shiv Sena insisting that a memorial would be built at Shivaji Park.

The party has a special affinity towards Shivaji Park as Thackeray was cremated there and is also special as the party's public rally announcing its formation was held at Shivaji Park.

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