Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackrey's funreal at the iconic Shivaji Park was only the second public funeral in the state's history. The cremation at the park, that has been declared a silent zone by the Bombay High Court, was seen as a one time concession keeping in mind the massive crowds that turned up to pay their last respects. However, the Sena demand that a memorial be built for their leader at the ground has met with stiff opposition from residents' associations, who insist that the park is one of the few hundred open spaces in the city and they cannot permit further construction.
Ashok Rawat, Trustee, Walkers Ecological Movement, says, "I think that's the mood of the people that in public open spaces, there should not be any construction." Several Mumbai cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar have honed their skills at Shivaji Park, but the Shiv Sena too insists that its ties with the park run deep with the party having taken its conception in the park in 1966.
Even before a formal proposal is mooted, the NCP's minister of state for urban development declared it would be considered positively. Bhaskar Jadhav, MoS, Urban Development, said, "If the proposal comes to the government, it will definitely be considered with all sensitivity." However, the sentiment wasn't echoed by CM Prithviraj Chavan who holds the portfolio. The CM's office merely said that no proposal had been received.
The High Court had ordered the park as a silence zone following a PIL by the Walkers Ecological Movement, who say even the late Shiv Sena supremo wouldn't have wanted the geography of his beloved Shivaji Park be disturbed.
Says Rawat, "He wouldn't have liked that his mentor i.e. Shivaji Maharaj in whose memory this park has been named after, and whose statue is erected in Shivaji Park, that he should be there also..." Once the BMC, which is controlled by the Sena-BJP combine, moots the proposal formally, a protracted legal battle may be on the cards.