The BJP Friday said the little garden along Girgaum Chowpatty where Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was cremated should be named as “Swaraj Bhoomi”, a demand that Lokmanya Tilak Gaurav Samiti, an independent outfit, has been raising for long.
“Lokmanya Tilak was a great freedom fighter, thinker, social reformer who put nation first. His clarion call to the nation that ‘freedom is my birth right…’ stirred the nation and gave momentum to the pre-Independence movement against the British rule across India,” state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said while backing the outfit’s demand.
Lokmanya Tilak Gaurav Samiti, which has been pushing for a huge swaraj stambh (pillar) in the garden where a statue of Tilak stands tall along the seashore, says the Maharashtra government has not been responding to its demand.
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Tilak, a veteran freedom fighter and social reformer, died on August 1, 1920. His last rites were performed at Girguam Chowpatty along the seashore instead of crematorium because of massive public turnout at the funeral.
On Friday, which marked the 94th death anniversary of Tilak, the outfit’s chairman Prakash Silam said, “ For the last three decades, we have been asking the government to allow the project in the same place where Tilak as cremated. It should be open to public.”
“If we can have a magnificent Rajghat in the honour of Mahatma Gandhi, Shakti Sthal for Indira Gandhi, why not a Swaraj Bhoomi in Tilak’s honour,” said Silam, who is the grandson of first Speaker of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Laxman Silam.
Laxman, a Congress worker associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s movement, had first raised the demand for installation of Tilak’s statue at the same place where his final rites were conducted.
The committee has held several meetings with the state government complete and given presentations, which include construction of an arch and pillar and naming of garden as “Swaraj Bhoomi”, but the proposal was rejected on the grounds that it would require environmental clearance.
“We are not tampering with any landscape or seeking additional land. We are not even seeking government’s funds,” Silam said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan offered floral tributes at the samadhi early morning.