The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena took two different approaches in their battle for one-upmanship to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Maharashtra Day, to be celebrated on May 1.
Sara Wilcox, spokesperson for the Guinness Book of Records, and present at the Sena’s blood donation drive at Goregaon, confirmed the Sena had broken the existing record of 17,927 bottles of blood.
“I am happy the old record has been broken for a good cause. It should be broken again,” Wilcox said. The record book has given the Sena a temporary certificate of 21,217 blood bottles, to be upgraded later.
While Uddhav Thackeray watched his party enter the record book, his cousin Raj Thackeray’s MNS organised a food festival, hoping to reach Marathi voters’ hearts through their stomachs.
The Sena’s day-long blood camp at the NSE complex at Goregaon was inaugurated by party executive president Uddhav.
“The blood I donated will go to Vidarbha, as a message of united Maharashtra. This state has to remain united. This blood drive has shown that if the Marathi manoos takes it to heart, he can create any world. Marathi-speaking people had to shed blood to demand the inclusion of Mumbai into Maharashtra 50 years ago,” Uddhav said.
He has promised to organise such drives every year. This year’s event saw as many as 800 people donating blood at a time. His son Aditya, however, did not participate in the event.
At the Andheri sports complex, party president Raj inaugurated the MNS’s five-day food festival, with giant TV screens showing the IPL final match to keep the crowd entertained.
“The aim of the food contest, which begins today, is not only to popularise Maharashtrian food, but also to find out how many women are aware of the state’s cuisine,” MNS leader Shalini Thackeray said.
The event hosted more than 100 food stalls, and participants are expected to create a meal that is specific to one of the regional cuisines of the state — Konkan, Desh, Khandesh, Vidarbha and Marathwada, to be judged by a panel of eminent chefs and restaurant owners.