After 3 rejections, MNS chief demands Worli as rally venue
Just days after the Bombay high court denied him permission to hold his election rally at Shivaji Park, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray's choice of venue was turned down once again.
The Mumbai police on Tuesday rejected the MNS' application to hold rallies on one of two spots in Dadar - the road opposite the Sena Bhavan, or near the Portuguese Church.
Raj finally zeroed in on Worli's Jamboree Maidan as the venue for his February 13 rally, which will conclude his campaign for the February 16 civic polls. The party has approached the police for permission and is likely to get it in the next few days.
"We were told that our rally could cause a traffic jam," said Shirish Sawant, general secretary, MNS. "We were told not to violate the code of conduct," he added.
The MNS' eventual choice, the Jamboree Maidan, is famous for hosting one of the biggest Dahi Handi festivals in the city.
Interestingly, Raj's estranged uncle and Shiv Sena president Bal Thackeray will address the Sena's final rally before the polls at the MMRDA ground, Bandra,-Kurla Complex, on the same day.
The HC's refusal to grant Raj permission to hold his rally at Shivaji Park had not gone down to well with the leader, who had accused the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Sena of joining hands to thwart him from holding a rally there. The HC had turned Raj down on grounds that Shivaji Park is a Silence Zone. However, the ground holds special significance for the MNS chief as he launched his party from here, in 2006. "The NCP, which holds the Home Ministry, allows the Sena to hold it's annual Dusshera rally in Shivaji Park, but when it comes to me, they reject my plea," rued Raj.
However, on Tuesday, deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar expressed support for Raj's demand, saying political rallies should be allowed at Shivaji Park. "I respect the court's decision but in a democracy, every political party and it's leader should get an opportunity to put his views before the public. For this, the political parties must be allowed to use the grounds," said Pawar. He said he would take up the issue with the Election Commission.