Mumbai, Nov 24: Controversy over state honour, which was given to Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray during his funeral, still continues. Amid criticism and counter-criticism, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan tries to clarify their stand over the decision of felicitating Thackeray with tricolour and gun salute.
The CM, during an interview with Tehelka, said that Thackeray received state honour as he was an artist, a cartoonist and not as a politician.
When asked why the Shiv Sena chief was honoured with tricolour and gun salute despite having been indicted by various commissions for his involvement in riots and was critical of minorities, the CM said, "it was a request by many senior leaders, including from the Congress and NCP."
The CM also added, "Bal Thackeray wasn't the only one. In the past, too, we have given the same kind of State honour to artists and writers, so it's not that we made an exception for him. Also, it was not a 21-gun salute."
Answering to questions regarding the state government's decision of allowing Shivaji Park for Thackeray's funeral, Chavan said, "...where else could have we accommodated the huge gathering of people who had turned out?"
"It would have been next to impossible for us to accommodate the crowd at Matoshree or at the Dadar crematorium, also keeping in mind the VIPs who had come for the funeral," added the CM.
However, while expressing his views over Shiv Sena's position in politics post Bal Thackeray period, Chavan claimed that his demise may leave an impact on BJP-Sena ties.
Continuing his statement, Chavan also said, "Sena's members may join Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. By that logic, the Shiv Sena's own votes would stand divided."
Bal Thackeray breathed his last on Nov 17 and he was cremated a day later at Shivaji Park where he had commenced his political career in 1966. At least 50 lakh people gathered at the venue to pay their last tribute to the leader.