Massive crowds flocked to the Bal Thackeray memorial at Shivaji Park to pay homage to the late Sena chief on Sunday, his first death anniversary.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray puts flowers before his father’s photograph as his wife Rashmi and son Aditya look on. (HT Photos)
The memorial, which has been named Shreeman Balasaheb Thackeray Smruti Sthal, is an 800sqft garden developed by the civic body.
A huge portrait of Thackeray decorated with white flowers was put up on a marble pedestal at the site where he was cremated a day after he died on November 17 last year.
As the light fragrance of sonchafa ( yellow champa), Thackeray’s favourite flower, lingered, politicians from across parties, industrialists, Bollywood personalities and followers came to offer their tributes.
Shouting Balasaheb amar rahe (may Balasaheb be immortal), Sainiks from all over the state formed a kilometre-long queue from early morning, hoping to get a darshan at their leader’s memorial.
The Sena patriarch’s family — party president Uddhav, who was seen monitoring the situation himself, his wife Rashmi and sons Aditya and Tejas — were among the first to arrive and last to leave after attending to the visitors.
And for the first time after being booed out at the Sena Dussehra rally, senior party leader Manohar Joshi chose the occasion to meet Uddhav.
Both Uddhav and Rashmi were seen speaking to Joshi for more than 10 minutes, suggesting they had called a truce.
NCP president and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who shared a great camaraderie with Bal Thackeray, was one of the first to pay his respects, bringing his daughter, MP Supriya Sule, along.
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, a former Sainik, accompanied his party chief and Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan made an appearance as well.
Senior BJP leader LK Advani spent half an hour at the memorial with the Thackeray family, and brought state BJP president Devendra Fadanvis, Opposition leader Vinod Tawde and Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar with him.
Interestingly, the Congress and MNS chose to stay away.