In what may be seen as softening of its stance on the demand for a memorial of former party chief Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park, the Shiva Sena has said the ground does not have enough space for a memorial.
“It is true that the Shivaji Park does not have large space for the memorial. Hence, a huge space for that memorial will have to be located in the same area,” said Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
“The spot where he (Bal Thackeray) was cremated at Shivaji Park will remain as a permanent place of faith for Maharashtra and even the people of Shivaji Park are not opposed to it,” Raut, who is also the executive editor of the party mouthpiece Saamna, said in his weekly column on Sunday.
Raut lashed out at critics of the memorial and questioned why some people were objecting to the place where Thackeray was cremated to be preserved as a memory. He called such people “ungrateful” and stressed there was a need to “teach them a lesson.”
“Some stupid people are unnecessarily indulging in a controversy over Balasaheb Thackeray’s memorial. This shows the smallness of their mind. Actually, a public leader like Balasaheb does not need a physical memorial. Their memorial is the massive work done by them and their immortality,” said Raut.
Raut said Thackeray’s memorial needed to be stand out as Maharashtra’s heritage and should have the presence of leaders from across party lines like at the inauguration of the Hutatma memorial to commemorate the Samyukta Maharashtra movement.
He pointed out that largest number of memorials in India had come up in the name of the Gandhi family on public land and their upkeep was being looked after by the public exchequer. Raut added that the tombs of Adilshahi general Afzal Khan at Pratapgad in Satara, who was slayed by warrior-king Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and that of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb near Aurangabad had encroached on land.
Raut pointed out that Shivaji Park and Thackeray had a relationship dating from their birth— both were born in 1927.