A grand memorial for Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray will be built at the Mayor’s bungalow in Shivaji Park area, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced on Tuesday, in the first sign of a possible thaw in strained ties between BJP and its junior ally.
With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray by his side, Fadnavis made the announcement on the third death anniversary of Bal Thackeray, agreeing to the scenic seaside bungalow at Dadar being the home for the memorial, a choice which was strongly pushed by the Sena.
Fadnavis, who holds the Urban Development porfolio, and Thackeray met for the first time in public today since the allies faced off in a bitter battle for a civic election in Mumbai suburb, Kalyan-Dombivali, earlier this month.
“Balasaheb was the man responsible for making the alliance of BJP and Shiv Sena. He had been a guiding light for all of us who helped make Maharashtra that is respected everywhere. A memorial befitting his status will be set up at Mayor’s bungalow and the entire cost will be borne by the Government,” Fadnavis said at a joint press meet with Uddhav.
The announcement marked days of deliberations on the site of the memorial to be built for Bal Thackeray, who founded Shiv Sena in 1966 and steered it to become a political force in the state.
“After I had announced the construction of a memorial, we set up an empowered committee headed by the Chief Secretary and secretaries of the GAD, UDD, Mumbai Police Commissioner and BMC Commissioner. The committee was entrusted with the task of suggesting us the places of memorial,” Fadnavis said.
The Chief Minister said the committee suggested eight places, an after extensive deliberations with Uddhav, the final place was decided.
“Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Anil Desai visited all these places and we have finally decided that the memorial will come up at Mayor’s bungalow,” he said.
Fadnavis announced that a public trust headed by Uddhav which will be formed to work out modalities for the memorial.
“The broad framework of the memorial has been decided. The intricacies will now be worked out. The names of other members of this trust will be announced in 2-3 days,” he said.
“The Mayor’s bungalow is a heritage site. It cannot be pulled down. But, the memorial will come up at this place and the Mayor will be shifted to another designated bungalow. That bungalow is more beautiful than this,” he said.
“Balasaheb’s contributions cannot be measured in terms of money. Thus, we have decided whatever be the cost, everything will be borne by the state government,” he said.
Uddhav thanked the Chief Minister for “not merely speaking about the memorial, but working on it constructively as well”.
“Balasaheb’s memorial will be built in a way that everything about him will be known to a person who visits it. Anyone from any part of the world will get every detail of Balasaheb at the memorial,” Thackeray said.
The scenic bungalow offers an uninterrupted view of Dadar-Chowpatty and has been the official residence of Mayor for more than four decades. Bal Thackeray established the Shiv Sena in 1966 at Shivaji park and also addressed the annual Dussehra rallies there.