Sitting beside the temporary memorial of late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray at the Shivaji Park, Shiv Sainik Ranjit Kadam looks at it with respect and veneration. “This can’t be called just a memorial; it is a <i>shaktisthal</i> (source of strength),” Kadam said.
While the row over the Sena supremo’s memorial continues, the spot where Thackeray was cremated has become a pilgrimage-like site for Sainiks and party supporters, who come in flocks to offer flowers and pray. A garlanded photograph of Thackeray has been kept on the platform where he was cremated, which has been decorated with flowers.
Shiv Sainiks Santosh Telawane and Sandesh Patil, who are among those keeping a vigil at the spot located opposite the imposing statue of Chatrapati Shivaji, said people from different parts of the state, including Chandrapur, Shirdi, Ahmednagar and Beed, continue to visit the site to pay their respects.
Even as the BMC has written to the police pointing out that permission for the final rites was granted only for a day and the structure erected for the cremation continues to exist, Sainiks are against the platform being removed. They, however, hasten to point out that they are willing to abide by the party high command’s stance on the matter.
Goregaon MLA and Shiv Sena group leader in the state legislature Subhash Desai denied that the BMC had written to the police regarding the structure. “The Shiv Sena’s stance regarding the memorial will be put forth at the right time by Uddhavji,” he said.
While a former mayor said that he would take to the streets to oppose the removal of the platform, a Sena MLA said that Balasaheb earned this respect.
Moreover, a Shiv Sena MP pointed out that the sentiments of the people were associated with the site where Thackeray was cremated.
“People come for darshan even today, with around 1,500 to 2,000 people making their presence felt daily,” said a local Sena functionary.