Even as their party leaders promised to vacate Shivaji Park later this week, Shiv Sainiks guarding Bal Thackeray's temporary memorial kept their job - albeit with caution. They avoided any confrontation with Army personnel who began preparations at the ground to celebrate Vijay Divas on December 15-16.
The military, too, stayed away from the memorial area and ensured that tents and other temporary structures were built on the other side of the park. The Army on Tuesday had worked out a plan such that they do not disturb the memorial. To ensure smooth functioning of the event, Mumbai Police personnel are deployed in large numbers around Shivaji Park.
The defence personnel have displayed notices at the entrance of the ground informing the public about the Army fair. The notice also requested visitors to cooperate and not use the ground till December 17.
Watching the Army's activities from the memorial enclosure, Sena workers from Navi Mumbai, Beed and Latur district held saffron flags high and distributed saffron caps among supporters. Most of these Sainiks didn't know the details of the negotiations between their party and the government.
Party leaders said the Sainiks would start leaving Shivaji Park in batches from Thursday and the entire area would be vacated by December 17.
"We would continue to co-operate (with the Army) and won't interfere in their activities. They are preparing from morning and there has been no problem yet," said Anil Jagtap of Beed district, from where more than 300 representatives arrived on Wednesday. "We will vacate the place only when our leaders ask us to."
Sena workers from Beed and Latur have decided to stay put till they don't get a positive response from the government. Till the Army fair ends, Shiv Sainiks and visitors to the memorial will use the entrance near Chhatrapati Shivaji's statue.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had written to the Sena to dismantle the structure before December 12. However, Sainiks were determined to continue guarding the temporary memorial.
"We won't let anyone touch the sacred structure. The government should respect our sentiments," said Pappu Kulkarni from Latur.