State against Shivaji Park memorial

The Maharashtra government is learnt to have decided against the construction of a memorial of the late Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park in Mumbai, although the Congress leadership was under pressure from its partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to yield to the Shiv Sena's demand for the same.

Congress sources said NCP ministers have conveyed to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan their support for the proposal for Thackeray's memorial. Despite their ideological differences, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Thackeray enjoyed a good rapport.

The Congress is, however, not in favour of the memorial at Shivaji Park. Sources said while the state government had allowed Thackeray's last rites to be performed there in view of public sentiment and the large gathering that was to attend his funeral, "there is no question of building a memorial there".

A Congress corporator who had demanded a memorial for Thackeray on a part of the Indu Mills land was issued a showcause notice on Friday.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is also opposed to the idea, with the party saying on Friday that it is not in favour of construction of memorials for leaders.

A day after one of its corporators said a memorial for Thackeray should be constructed at Indu Mills, Raj Thackeray's outfit said that was his personal view. "The MNS has always opposed building statues or memorials of leaders. We believe that building structures which will benefit the public and and can be used by them is a true offering of faith to these leaders," MNS general secretary Anil Shidore said, adding that it was up to Raj to decide the MNS's official stand.

The Republican Party of India has already turned down any suggestion of Thackeray and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, for whom the mill land was earlier earmarked, sharing a memorial.

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