The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) felicitated cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar at a cultural programme at Andheri on Friday, a day before the golden jubilee of the formation of Maharashtra. The function rivalled that of the Shiv Sena, which has organised a musical show featuring Lata Mangeshkar on Saturday at Bandra-Kurla Complex. Mangeshkar will be performing after a 10-year hiatus, reportedly at the special request of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and his son Uddhav.
Along with Tendulkar, other cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar were also honoured at the MNS function, which was put together by film producer Nitin Desai. In all, 25 Maharashtrian luminaries were feted, singer Suman Kalyanpurkar, former director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Raghunath Mashelkar and actor Ashok Saraf among them.
The Sena and the MNS are fighting a battle of one-upmanship over the golden jubilee celebrations. Recently, the Sena held a record-breaking blood donation drive at Goregaon, while the MNS organised a food festival to promote Maharashtrian cuisine. At Friday’s function, MNS chief Raj Thackeray presented Tendulkar with a replica of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s sword. The original is in a museum in London Tendulkar told the audience: “I try to teach my children as much possible about Maharashtra. I am proud to have imbibed the Maharashtrian culture that my parents passed on to me. Maharashtracha maatit dum aahe (Maharshtra’s soil has power).” This was followed by a cultural dance depicting Maharashtrian culture. The event concluded with fireworks.