Senamen stand ground as army readies for Vijay Diwas

Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai met executive president Uddhav Thackeray Wednesday morning to reportedly discuss stand on a makeshift memorial to party chief Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park.

He had met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Tuesday night with mayor Sunil Prabhu and BMC standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale to demand naming of the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport after Thackeray, a new stamp in his name and a plot adjoining the mayor bungalow for a memorial.

Shivaji Park, where preparations are under way for annual Vijay Diwas celebrations, meanwhile, has turned a picnic spot with paper plates, plastic cups and empty water bottles lying abandoned, people taking afternoon naps and discussing the 2014 assembly election and women singing folk songs.

The resolve of Sainiks to keep the makeshift Thackeray memorial standing, however, is still strong.

"Party workers are joining us from across Maharashtra. The question of removing the memorial does not arise. At any news or rumour of a possible demolition attempt by BMC, we become alert and deploy more party workers to guard the memorial," said Baba Jaybhay, deputy chief of a Sena unit in Navi Mumbai.

He is guarding the structure with over 500 party workers. The uncertainty over the memorial is testing patience of Shiv Sainiks.

"It has been long. The state government should listen to our leaders and find a solution. We are prepared to come here every day, but the sooner we get back to our lives the better," said one.

Sena leaders claimed the ground sees 3,000-4,000 visitors every day. Unpurturbed, the army has begun preparations for Vijay Diwas, which falls on December 16.

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