Residents of Shivaji Park will be relieved to know that no election rallies will be held at the famous ground, though the Bombay high court ruling has upset Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, who had planned a rally there on February 13.
The court on Friday rejected the MNS’ plea for permission to hold an election rally at the ground stating that if it gave permission in one case, it would not be in a position to reject pleas by other parties.
The MNS approached the court after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) refused to give it permission. The refusal is based on a May 2010 court order that declared Shivaji Park as a silence zone, where the use of loud speakers is prohibited.
Upset, Thackeray threatens to hold rallies on the streets. “What is the point of holding elections if we are not allowed to campaign freely? I will hold rallies on the streets and I am not worried if cases are slapped on me for this,” he said.
The MNS chief alleged that it was discrimination. “The Shiv Sena is allowed to use the ground for its Dussehra function, but I am not allowed as it is a silence zone,” he said. “I want permission for just one day and that too as it is election time.”
The party’s counsel, YS Jahagirdar, had told the court that the MNS would not violate noise control regulations.
The state and NGO Wecom Trust, on whose petition Shivaji Park was declared a silence zone, had opposed the plea. “Supporters of political parties don’t come silently. They shout slogans and use loud speakers,” PG Lad, additional government pleader said.
Shivaji Park is a famous venue for political rallies. The MNS held its first public meeting there. However, ever since it has been declared a silence zone, the BMC has been denying permissions for meetings and rallies. Exceptions have been made for the Sena’s Dussehra rally and some cultural events.
Thackeray ruled out a rally at the MMRDA grounds, like the Sena is planning. The rally is important as he, like his uncle Bal Thackeray, is an excellent orator and has the ability to influence voters using his skill.
Sena spokesperson MP Sanjay Raut warned Thackeray against imitating Bal Thackeray. “The Dussera rally is something the Sena has started at Shivaji Park. We will continue to have it there as per our tradition,” Raut said.