The Bombay High Court had permitted the Shiv Sena to hold its Dusshera rally at the Shivaji Park after the party informed the court that it would be a cultural programme. However, the speeches made at the rally, the first after the death of Sena founder Bal Thackeray, showed that it was a grand political affair.
On Sunday evening, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray used the opportunity to launch a blistering attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) president Prof Janardhan Chandurkar said the Sena has unmistakably “committed contempt of court” by using the rally for political purposes.
He said the rallies organised by the Shiv Sena at Shivaji Park for the last 47 years were never a cultural one.
“This time the Sena had given an affidavit in the high court stating that the rally would be cultural in character. But, Sunday’s meeting was totally political. This is clear contempt and action should be taken against the party,” Chandurkar told dna on Monday.
“At every Dusshera rally, Bal Thackeray had spewed venom on his political opponents. Uddhav’s speech was relatively more restrained. Nevertheless, it was completely political in character,” Chandurkar added.
Maharashtra NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The Shiv Sena is registered and recognised as a political party. So there should be no doubt about its political character. It had misled the HC by stating that the rally was a cultural meeting. The court should pull up the Sena for misleading it.”
Malik said his party was not against any organisation holding a political rally at Shivaji Park.
“However, in this case the Sena had informed the HC that it would be a cultural event and in reality it was expectedly a political meeting. This is a serious matter and appropriate action should be taken against the Sena,” he stated.
While allowing the rally, the high court noted that “considering the fact that only four days are left for the rally and since it is said that the ground is not used by the party to hold a political rally but a cultural function followed by speeches of its leaders, we direct the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to grant the applicant permission.”
Interestingly, last year the HC had granted permission by stating that “this permission is restricted only for the Dusshera gathering to be organised on October 24, 2012 and for any such event to be organised in 2013 and thereafter the applicant shall....approach the MMRDA for permission to use the Bandra ground from 2013 onwards.”
This year, the Sena had informed the court that the MMRDA ground at Bandra would cost it Rs70 lakh. It maintained that the meeting was a cultural event and hence it should be permitted. The court accepted the party’s plea and granted permission.
A local NGO had also objected to the rally on the grounds that Shivaji Park was in the silence zone.