The Shiv Sena’s four-decade-old tradition of holding its annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park seems to be in jeopardy.
The Mumbai police have denied the party permission to use loudspeakers for the rally because Shivaji Park is a silence zone. Joint commissioner of police (law and order), Rajnish Seth, said: “The permission for the use of loudspeakers has been denied as per the high court order.”
While the municipal corporation, which is the custodian of the ground, grants permission for its use, the police grant permission for the use of loudspeakers.
The high court has allowed silence zone norms to be relaxed at Shivaji Park only on three days a year, December 6 for Ambedkar Jayanti, the May Day parade and the Republic Day parade on January 26.
The Sena is planning to approach the high court. “We will follow the legal procedure. Neither the high court nor the police have specifically refused permission for the Dussehra rally,” said party spokesperson, Sanjay Raut. “For us, the Dussehra rally is not just a political event but a cultural one too. We are sure the high court will take note of our feelings.”
If denied permission to use speakers at Shivaji Park, the Sena may have to hold the rally at Bandra Kurla Complex or the Andheri sports complex.
The Dussehra rally is a grand annual event during which the party reaches out to its traditional voter base and makes its stand clear on various issues. The rally has been cancelled only twice in 45 years. In 2006, it was called off due to heavy rain and in 2009, the party held a joint pre-poll rally with ally, Bharatiya Janata Party, after Dussehra.
Sena chief Bal Thackeray addressed the rally every year, until 2008. After that, his son and party executive president, Uddhav Thackeray, took over.
The state’s environment department has drafted a notification relaxing silence zone norms. The law and judiciary department wants to consult the high court before going ahead. “The state will move an application before the high court this week seeking its concurrence on the relaxation. The court had, in its May order, said we can make our own laws on the silence zones,’’ a senior bureaucrat said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
There is hope for the Sena if the state changes the rules before Dussehra. The Sena is optimistic. “We are sure the rally will be held here this year too,” Raut said.