Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s statue unveiled in Mumbai
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday unveiled a statue of Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray on his 95th birth anniversary, in Colaba, in presence of his family members and senior political leaders cutting across party lines. For the first time, since the formation of the three-party coalition, Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state, top state politicians CM Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, former CM and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray came together to unveil the statue. No speeches were given at the function as it included the only unveiling of the statue.
The nine-feet bronze statue is the first of the Sena supremo in the city, where he established his political party and shaped his political life.
Chief Minister Thackeray called it an “unforgettable” moment of his life, while Aaditya Thackeray, minister and grandson of Bal Thackeray termed it an “emotional” moment.
“There is a memorable moment in my life. Everyone knows that the Shiv Sena supremo was a great leader of the country and his thoughts will continue to guide us in future also. Throughout his career, he had close ties with many political leaders. I am happy that the senior leaders of all political parties came together today keeping aside the political differences,” said Uddhav while speaking to media persons after the function.
The programme brought leaders from opposite sides from the political divide on one stage, including NCP chief Pawar, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, MNS chief and Uddhav Thackeray’s cousin Raj Thackeray, Union minister Ramdas Athawale and Maharashtra Congress president and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was not present at the programme.
The body language of the estranged cousins Uddhav and Raj seemed cordial, as the two brothers were seen discussing the details of the statue that stood atop a 14-feet pedestal. Raj, who arrived first at the venue in south Mumbai, left after the inauguration. Fadnavis was also seen exchanging a few words with Pawar at the event.
Aaditya, speaking to reporters after the programme, said, “This is an emotional moment for me. My grandfather Hindu Hridaysamrat Shiv Sena pramukh Balasaheb Thackeray had so much love for Mumbai and seeing the sea of people who have gathered here is special. This is his first statue in Mumbai.”
On the leaders from other political parties gracing the event, Aaditya said that Bal Thackeray “treasured” his friendship, therefore, all leaders had come to the programme forgetting political divide. Leaders including NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal, Congress’s Aslam Shaikh, BJP’s Pravin Darekar, MNS’s Amit Thackeray and others were present at the event.
The statue stands on a 14-foot pedestal which has two-feet landscaping and has been installed at a traffic island at Colaba. Thackeray’s statue also bears the famous opening lines of his speeches “Jamlelya majhya tamam Hindu bandhavano, bhaginino ani matano (All my Hindu brothers, sisters and mothers gathered here)” inscribed in golden colour at the bottom of the statue.