While the government gave the Shiv Sena special permissions to perform Bal Thackeray’s last rites at the historical Shivaji Park ground only hours before the funeral at 10.15am on Sunday, it will now have to deal with the next demand: a memorial there.
Sena functionaries had insisted the funeral take place at the ground, which late Bal Thackeray referred to as the Shivteertha, the ground where Sena’s first rally took place and the party was born.
As far as the memorial is concerned, the government has not yet received any formal request from the Sena. However, a senior minister said the decision would be taken after deliberations at a political level.
Permissions to conduct the funeral at the park were finally given following an order from municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte after much deliberation and dilly-dallying. It was done after a formal request came to Kunte from police commissioner Satyapal Singh, who the Sena had approached for permission.
Generally, no funeral can be conducted in a public space, which includes a playground such as Shivaji Park. But an exception can be made through a special provision in the Mumbai Municipal Act.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan along with senior bureaucrats from the home and urban development department, Kunte and Singh studied the issue, assessed the legalities in three meetings since Wednesday. The final decision was taken in a meeting on Saturday in the presence of home minister RR Patil.
“We even took the legal opinion of the attorney general since the ground has pending litigations. A police assessment report was submitted, which stated that the turnout expected was too large to be accommodated in such a small space. It was concluded that a state honour be given because Thackeray, apart from being a political figure, was a great cartoonist, artist and an active part of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement and deserved a state honour,” said a senior government official.