A day after Shiv Sena senior leader Manohar Joshi hinted that they would not allow the Pakistan cricket team to play if it reaches the finals to be held at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday issued another statement saying that the team should in fact be given a grand welcome.
“There is no need to worry. Pakistan players should be given a rousing welcome and a helicopter should be arranged to shower flowers over them… there should be an official welcome,” Uddhav said, apparently irked with the criticism of the Sena over the issue.
In 1991, the Shiv Sainiks after getting a boost from their chief Bal Thackeray had dug the entire Wankhede stadium pitch two days prior to the match and had managed to stop the
Pakistan team from playing there.
“When they (Pakistani cricket team) come here, the entire Wankhede stadium should be lit up with candles that were used for the candle marches held after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks… then they should be given a grand banquet at Kasab’s (26/11 accused) favourite Taj Mahal hotel,” Thackeray added.
He also suggested that a concert of Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was recently caught at Delhi airport while travelling with undeclared
cash, should be arranged at the venue. “It is okay if innocent people die in terror attacks, but Pakistan cricket team should play, no matter what may come,” he said.
In a related development, Congress legislator Charan Singh Sapra condemned the Sena for its stand on the World Cup matches.
“On one hand, the Mayor who is from Sena wants free tickets for the final and on the other, his party threatens to disrupt matches. This is nothing but an effort to grab attention,” Sapra said.
Referring to Sena’s U-turn on Valentine’s Day agitation, Sapra appealed to Thackeray's grandson Aditya to convince his grandfather and father not to play spoilsport.