Just like his father, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray has proved his supremacy in party affairs by having the last word and ending the controversy over a memorial for late Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
The Shiv Sena has announced that it will dismantle the temporary memorial on Shivaji Park and shift it to the margins of the Park. The plan is to construct a smaller samadhi in the form of a garden and plaque to the westward corner of the ground near the Shivaji statue. A bigger memorial will come up near the Mayor's bungalow, the exact location of which is yet to be finalised.
By making this announcement, Uddhav has also indirectly snubbed Sena leaders including former speaker Manohar Joshi, who first sparked off the issue, and MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut who said common laws did not stand in front of the Sainiks' sentiments.
Uddhav, who had maintained silence on the issue so far, after his chat with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday, has taken a more popular and mutually agreeable stand on the issue, even if it has meant stepping back to accommodate people's sentiments and legal issues faced by the government. He has also ensured that the voters of Dadar, which the Sena had lost to MNS recently, appreciated his party's flexibility. Most of the citizens are opposed to the memorial at the place where the late leader was cremated last month.
Explaining his stand in the party mouthpiece Saamna on Thursday, Uddhav said: "It is the Sainiks who have been the been the power of the Shiv Sena. They have been guarding the memorial. It is these Sainiks who will shift the memorial with their own hands."
Uddhav further said that it was from Shivaji Park that the Sena chief gave Marathi manoos his identity and recognition. "It is the feeling of every Maharashtrian and Hindu in the country that there should be a permanent samadhi in his memory at Shiv Tirth (the name by which late Sena chief referred to Shivaji Park)," he said.
As a message to Sainiks, Uddhav said: "I have observed restraint while taking this decision. I assure you that it [memorial] will remain at Shiv Tirth."