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Thackeray rallies could put brakes on city traffic

mumbai Updated: Feb 13, 2012 01:10 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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Monday promises to be big day for political activity in the city, with both Bal Thackeray and his estranged nephew Raj planning their final rallies before the February 16 civic polls.

Both election rallies are expected to see massive turnouts, so if you are planning to travel by road, brace yourself for jams as these rallies could throw traffic out of gear during the evening peak hours.

The Shiv Sena supremo’s rally will be held at the MMRDA grounds in Bandra-Kurla Complex. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief’s rally, at Jamboree Maidan in Worli, is expected to be more disruptive.

“After lot of time, I have decided to finally hold the rally at Jamboree Maidan,” Raj said at a rally in Nashik on Sunday. “I am really unhappy that I have been denied the Shivaji Park grounds.”

After the civic body denied Raj permission to hold a rally at Shivaji Park saying it was a silence zone, he appealed to the Bombay high court and the Supreme court, both of which refused to grant him permission.

His application to hold a rally on the street outside Sena Bhavan was also rejected.

The final rally of both parties is one of the most anticipated events in the pre-poll battle as both speakers are renowned for their oratorical skills.

Both Thackerays are known to have the ability to sway the electorate with their speeches and swing votes in their favour.

The police said they have made adequate arrangements for the rallies.

Vineet Agarwal, additional commissioner of police (central region), said: “The MNS has already deposited the money for the ground at Worli.”

A senior traffic police officer said that until Saturday they were under the impression that the MNS was going to hold the rally outside the Portuguese Church at Dadar.

“Now, if they are holding a rally at the Worli ground, we will have to close down traffic from Worli Naka to DD office. To normalise the traffic flow, our concentration [diversion] will be on Annie Besant Road,” the officer said.

The elections to one of India’s richest municipal corporations is critical for all major political parties as having control of the civic body ensures both political and monetary clout.

The Sena, which has been in control of the civic body for the past 17 years, is desperate to retain power even as its bete-noire, the MNS, seeks to increase its tally and upset the Sena’s prospects.

The Congress and the NCP have for the first time stitched up a pre-poll alliance to fight the Mumbai civic polls and heavyweights such as Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar are campaigning in the city.