The Congress Party on Sunday targeted Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi over a memorial for Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park, saying that the former chief minister probably feared the people might ask for space for the memorial at the Kohinoor towers project in Dadar.
“As a former Lok Sabha speaker, Manohar Joshi should not be talking about taking the law into his hands,” Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said. “He is probably saying this because he fears people will demand the Kohinoor Mills land to build the memorial for Bal Thackeray.” The Kohinoor Mills land is across the road from the Sena Bhavan headquarters of the Shiv Sena.
Replying to the Congress spokesperson’s suggestion, Joshi said, “Already three to four buildings have been constructed on the Kohinoor Mills land. I would not like to comment on this issue as Uddhav Thackeray has made it clear that he does not want any controversy on the matter of the building of the memorial.”
Sawant also urged that the Shiv Sena take into consideration the sentiment of the residents in the Shivaji Park area who were not in favour of the memorial at the park.
Some days ago, Anandraj Ambedkar, the grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, had suggested that the memorial for Bal Thackeray be built in the compound of Kohinoor towers project, in which Manohar Joshi’s son has a stake. Anandraj was countering a proposal by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for the Thackeray memorial at the Indu Mills compound, where Republican party groups have already been pushing for a memorial for Babasaheb Ambedkar. The state is in the process of handing over the land for the Ambedkar memorial.
Meanwhile, the MNS said that it did not want to be drawn into the controversy. “We do not want to get into this and I will not make any comments,” said Nitin Sardesai, MNS general secretary.
Unmesh Joshi, the son of Manohar Joshi, has a stake in the Kohinoor towers project. MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who was also involved in the project, later sold his stake and exited. The 4.8 acre property was bought by Raj and the Kohinoor group, owned by Joshi, for Rs421 crore in 2005.
Some Shiv Sena leaders have suggested in private that setting up the memorial at the Kohinoor site would be a fitting tribute by Manohar Joshi to the Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray.