Mumbai, Dec 11: Is Bal Thackeray bigger than Chattrapati Shivaji? Even a die-hard Shiv Sainik will say no. Then, why this demand to rename Mumbai's Shivaji Park as Shiv Thirth, which ultimately means disrespect to the great warrior king.
Sena derives its name from Shivaji and the Sainiks know how dear Shivaji's ideals were to Balasaheb. And the commonsense on the issue is very evident at ground zero. As one resident of the Shivaji Park area said "we are short of public open spaces and we will strongly oppose this." According to him the Shiv Sena should not interfere with the original name and should not use the park to perpetuate their leader's memory.
The issue seems to have taken violent turn on Monday night with some alleged Sainiks vandalising the ward office of BMC in Worli area. This is like attacking your own home as the Shiv Sena is in power at the BMC and its man is the mayor of the city. By tradition the mayor is considered as the first citizen of a city. Whatever be the provocation, nobody in good sense attacks their own home!
All the while, when the issue of Thackeray memorial was building up, the Maharashtra government kept dillydallying. Only in the last one week the government has taken a tough stand and issuing notices for removal of the memorial.
The Maharashtra government is lacking in strategy. It should call for Raj Thackeray's MNS (Maharastra Navanirman Sena) support and enforce rule of law. MNS is opposed to the concept of memorial. MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar has said, "The party has been against memorials since the beginning. We also did not support the proposal to install a Shivaji statue in Arabian Sea off Mumbai. We feel a project for public good is better than building memorials."
The BMC had served the notice on its Mayor Sunil Prabhu and Sena MP Sanjay Raut to remove the makeshift memorial from Shivaji Park immediately or face legal consequences. The notice makes it clear that while permission for the structure was granted only for a day - November 18 - for Thackeray's funeral, it had still not been removed. The state maintains that the Shivaji Park has been declared as a silence zone and a case on the issue is pending in Bombay High Court.