Updated: July 16, 2021 9:05:56 am
Tense scenes were witnessed at a virtual meeting of the Market and Garden Committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday over the proposed naming of a municipal garden in Govandi after 18-century Mysore king Tipu Sultan, with BJP corporators registering strong objection to the idea, calling Sultan anti-Hindu, and a Samajwadi Party (SP) corporator accusing the saffron party of communalising the issue.
The Shiv Sena-led Market and Garden Committee has now sent back the proposal to the civic administration, asking for more details. Mayor Kishori Pedenekar later told the media that the BJP was “doing petty politics” on the issue.
“We have referred back the proposal to administration as the work on developing the garden is yet to be completed and we are seeking more information on the proposal. It was an online meeting, so I did not allow any members to speak,” committee chairperson Pratima Khopade told The Indian Express.
When asked whether Sena also opposed the move to name the garden after Sultan, she refused to comment. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and corporator Bhalchandra Shirsat accused Sena of muzzling the voice of his colleagues on the issue. “We are completely against the proposal. Tipu Sultan was a cruel king who killed several Hindus and forcibly converted them to Islam. He destroyed temples. The move will hurt religious sentiments of the Hindus,” said Shirsat.
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“If the garden is named after great leaders like Independence activist Maulana Azad, former president Abdul Kalam or war hero Havildar Abdul Hamid, we will support it,” Shirsat added.
Earlier, on Wednesday, members of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti had met mayor Pednekar and opposed the idea of renaming the garden after Tipu Sultan. After the committee meeting, BJP corporators too met Pednekar and demanded that the proposal be scrapped.
Later in the day, the BJP released posters on social media, mocking Sena over the naming of the garden. The revamp of the two-acre plot, which had long been plagued by encroachment and anti-social activities, into a garden is expected to be completed by December. The BMC is spending around Rs 2 crore on the project and the contractor has been given an 18-month deadline to finish the work by year-end.
According to the proposal, on January 25, 2021, Rukhsana Siddiqui, a corporator from the SP, had written a letter to the Markets and Garden Committee seeking that the garden at Saahi Naka, near Deonar Dumping ground, be named after Sultan. The suggestion was accepted in June and sent to the committee for its approval.
“No decision was taken and it was sent back to administration. We have sought more details. As a mayor, my opinion is if a proposal was brought in with due process, there should be no problem. BJP is doing petty politics,” Pednekar said while speaking to reporters. Corporator Siddiqui said BJP was communalising the issue.
“He (Sultan) was a freedom fighter. It was the British who had spread lies against him to defeat him. I met the mayor after the meeting and demanded that the garden be named after him as he was a freedom fighter who fought a battle against the British,” she added.
Earlier, a controversy had erupted after Shiv Sena Parliamentarian Rahul Shewale had proposed naming an under-construction flyover on Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road in Govandi after Sufi Saint Gharib Nawaz Moinuddin Chisti. The BJP had opposed the move, targeted the Sena, and said the flyover should be named after Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
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