An altar, bhajans... park turns into sacred spot



Mumbai: The controversy surrounding Bal Thackeray just refuses to die. Almost 11 days after the Shiv Sena chief passed away, the spot in Shivaji Park where he was cremated has become a holy place for Sainiks and people in general.

While groups of Sena workers take turns to guard the spot, which has been barricaded, other Sena workers keep singing bhajans.

“If the Dadar shakha is guarding it today, tomorrow some other shakha will step in. Each one has been given a date and time and accordingly they arrive at Shivaji Park,” Samadhan Sarvankar, a leader of the Sena’s youth wing, said. “People sing bhajans and hymns. There is always a steady flow of visitors, including those with no political background.”

Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena spokesperson, said, “This place (the cremation spot) is like Ram Janmabhoomi for Sainiks. Court, ownership of plot or government approval... These issues will be sorted out gradually. And only Sainiks will decide where the memorial will come up — whether in Shivaji Park or some other place.”

Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson, said the Sena should follow the rule of the law while deciding on a memorial.

“Sena leaders have been saying various things over the past couple of days,” he said. “They seem to be more interested in gaining political mileage rather than coming up with something concrete about the memorial. Which is why they are comparing it with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. And that is not good.”

Malik said a senior Sena leader like Manohar Joshi announced he would take the law in his hand for the memorial. “It is a sad thing. They should learn to respect the law of this country. We are not against the memorial; but it should be done within the framework of the law,” he said. “The Sena should understand that the government does not run on emotions or sentiments... It is run on rules and regulations; otherwise there will be anarchy in the state.”

A RPI leader asked, “Why is the Sena in such a hurry to build a memorial?”

“Babasaheb Ambedkar had framed our Constitution. Why is there no memorial to him even 65 years after independence? We are still struggling to convince the government to hand over Indu Mill for a memorial,” he said.

“If leaders like Manohar Joshi love Thackeray so deeply, why can’t he voluntarily hand over his Kohinoor Mill land to the Sena for a memorial? I know he can never do this.”

DNA