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Why Shivaji Park and Dusshera rally hold special place for Shiv Sena?

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Mumbai, Oct 05: For the first time since Shiv Sena's birth, two Dussehra rallies will be held in Mumbai on Wednesday evening by the party's two factions - one led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the other by Uddhav Thackeray. The warring groups will use this opportunity to claim the legacy of the party founder late Bal Thackeray.

Why Shivaji Park and Dusshera rally hold special place for Shiv Sena?

Uddhav Thackeray faction is set to hold the rally at Shivaji Park in Dadar in central Mumbai. This is a special place for the party as the event has been organised since Shiv Sena's inception in 1966. This year, the issue on holding the rally reached the court as the Shinde faction too wanted to hold the rally at the same venue on the same day.

Setback for Shinde camp, HC allows Uddhav Thackeray to hold Dussehra rally at Shivaji ParkSetback for Shinde camp, HC allows Uddhav Thackeray to hold Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park

In a shot in the arm for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction, the Bombay High Court on September 23 granted it permission to hold its annual Dussehra rally at the iconic Shivaji Park ground in Dadar.

Now, the rebel group will hold the rally at the MMRDA ground at BKC in the suburbs.

Why Shivaji Park and Dusshera Rally Hold Special Place for Sena?

Originally known as Mahim Park, it was renamed after Maratha King Chatrapati Shivaji in 1927. This was a ground that was associated with many historical movements including Samyukta Maharashtra movement that paved the way for the creation of the state in 1960. Notably, Bal Thackeray's father and social reformer Keshav Sitaram Thackeray was part of the movement for carving out Maharashtra from erstwhile Bombay state, a report on First Post points out.

The ground has a special connection with Shiv Sena as Bal Thackeray held his first ever Dusshera rally on this ground on 23 October in 1966. Prior to his first rally, the Shiv Sena founder, who was a cartoonist and edited Marmik magazine, was unsure whether people would turn up for his rally, but the response stunned him.

As per the historians, the first rally turned out to be a great success, giving confidence to Bal Thackeray to raise his voice against the government on the issues affecting Marathi 'manoos'. In a matter of a few years, he was seen as a protector of the people of Maharashtra.

According to a report in Indian Express, a steel tiffin box was spread at the venue, seeking public donations for Shiv Sena.

The Shivaji Park witnessed many fiery speeches from Bal Thackeray. "This is the place from where Shiv Sena pramukh (chief) Balasaheb Thackeray spelled out the party's agenda, like the issue of Marathi manoos, Hindutva, the party's position on various issues; and also launched searing attacks on his opponents and the state and central governments," veteran Sena leader and MP Gajanan Kirtikar told PTI.

Hence, it does not take many by surprise when Bal Thackeray made Manohar Joshi take his oath as chief minister at a grand ceremony at Shivaji Park instead of Raj Bhavan in 1995.

As the years passed by, Bal Thackeray's rallies continued to attract more and more people. On various occasions and different times, he also shared the stage with political stalwarts like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, NCP supremo Sharad Yadav and socialist George Fernandes among many others at Shivaji Park.

Also, Bal Thackeray addressed his last rally virtually here where he asked people to extend their support and love to Uddhav and his grandson Aaditya.

In 2019, Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the Chief Minister at Shivaji Park. Not surprisingly, Raj Thackeray, after walking out of Shiv Sena in 2006, held his first rally at this venue.

After Bal Thackeray's death, he was cremated in this ground. So for Shiv Sainiks, the ground is 'Shiva-tirtha', a holy place.

When the controversy over organising the Dusshera event between the two factions of Sena broke out, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said Shivaji Park is synonymous with the Shiv Sena.

"When one says Shivaji Park, it brings to mind the Shiv Sena led by Balasaheb Thackeray. And that Shiv Sena is now Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena. So their demand for the Dussehra rally is not wrong," Pawar said.

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