Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray on Tuesday publicly opposed the idea of using the mayor’s bungalow for housing a memorial to his uncle and Shiv Sena founder-patriarch late Bal Thackeray.
His opposition came barely hours after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray made a joint announcement to the effect in the afternoon.
Speaking to media in Mumbai, Thackeray said he would meet Fadnavis soon and make clear his stand on the issue.
“In a city like Mumbai, is it so difficult for the government to find an open plot for constructing the memorial? Why only the mayor’s bungalow? Do they ‘want’ a memorial or the bungalow,” he said sarcastically.
Raj, who lives close to the mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park, alleged that the Shiv Sena wanted to permanently grab the prime sea-facing property in the garb of a memorial.
Thackeray said as per rules, government properties cannot be converted into memorials, particularly since the mayor’s bungalow is a heritage site of historic importance.
“Today they are in power so they are converting the mayor bungalow to a memorial… Tomorrow, will they do the same in Raj Bhavan or Rashtrapati Bhavan? Will they construct a memorial in ‘Varsha’ (Maharashtra chief minister’s official residence in Malabar Hill),” he asked.
He accused the Sena of putting forth Bal Thackeray’s name and “eyeing” the mayor’s bungalow, though there are other good locations like the municipal club nearby, or even a portion of Shivaji Park which would serve for the purpose of memorial.
Thackeray reiterated that a grand memorial must come up for Thackeray, but not at mayor’s bungalow, the government could consider other properties or some of the vacant mill lands, like they did for the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar memorial that will come up in Indu Mills Compound in Dadar west.
Earlier, Fadnavis said the memorial would be built through a trust which will be headed by Uddhav Thackeray and the funds would be allocated by the state government.
“Several locations were considered and all were good for the memorial. But Shivaji Park is the Sena’s ‘karma bhoomi’ and we accept the mayor’s bungalow here for the Thackeray memorial,” Uddhav Thackeray said on the occasion.
Fadnavis also assured that the heritage structure would not be destroyed while constructing the Thackeray memorial.