“This is not the time to argue over a memorial for the Shiv Sena chief... When the Sena family has not recovered from the shock, why should a controversy over the memorial be created?” said Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday.
But he also stressed that the will of the sainiks on the memorial would prevail.
A few residents and NGOs are opposed to building a memorial for the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park arguing that it will eat into the space for activities like cricket and lead to similar demands in future. But sainiks insist that it will be built where their leader was cremated on Sunday.
“Those who are engaging in debate and criticism must understand our feelings. I request them, with folded hands, to please help us maintain restraint,” Uddhav said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“The 25 lakh people who turned up for the Shiv Sena chief’s last darshan behaved with restraint and discipline. I salute their restraint… The decision on the memorial will be taken by the lakhs of hardcore sainiks. I will not intervene between the Sena chief and the sainiks,” he added.
However, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which also lays claim to Bal Thackeray’s legacy, said an official stance on the memorial would be taken by their party chief.
“There is no doubt that a memorial for Balasaheb is necessary, but a small memorial in a corner of the ground will not do justice to his legacy,” said a MNS leader, requesting anonymity.
MNS corporator from Shivaji Park Sandeep Deshpande said they would take a stand when the proposal was officially kept before the municipal corporation.
Earlier, Sena Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut had stressed that the memorial should come up at Shivaji Park, where Thackeray was cremated on Sunday.
“The NGOs and organisations who are opposing the memorial have nothing else to do. The memorial to the Sena chief will be built,” said Raut, adding that it was a question of public sentiment.