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Sena’s word law on memorial, says leader

Mumbai, Nov. 25: Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi today said a memorial to Bal Thackeray would come up anywhere the party wanted, no matter what the law said.

“Balasaheb’s memorial would be erected wherever it needs to be erected Shiv Sena style,” Joshi told reporters in Nashik. “It does not matter if the chief minister or the Prime Minister is opposing it. Once the party takes a decision, it will not consider anyone’s opposition.”

Joshi further said: “We don’t care if any law is coming in the way to raise Balasaheb’s memorial at Shivaji Park.”

The dare followed chief minister Prithviraj Chavan assertion that no construction could be allowed at Shivaji Park — classified as a playground and a silence zone by Bombay High Court — in violation of the law.

The Congress grabbed Joshi’s statement today to allege the Sena leader was unwilling to part with land his son owned opposite Shivaji Park for the memorial.

“We strongly condemn Manohar Joshi’s language of taking the law into their hands. Joshi has been the Speaker of (the) Lok Sabha, and we did not expect such language from him. It is confounding why Joshi is insisting on a memorial at Shivaji Park. Some people are demanding a memorial at Kohinoor Mill. Is Joshi’s insistence to ensure that Shiv Sainiks do not look at Kohinoor Mill owned by him?” state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant asked in a statement.

The 4.9-acre plot at the defunct Kohinoor Mill was bought by a company owned by Joshi’s son Unmesh and Thackeray’s nephew and MNS leader Raj Thackeray in a 2005 auction. The MNS headquarters and a multi-storeyed tower stands on the land now.

The suggestion that the memorial be built on this prime plot, opposite Shiv Sena Bhavan, came from Babasaheb Ambedkar’s grandson Anandraj, who was furious when the MNS set its sights on another mill plot near Shivaji Park where a monument to Ambedkar is likely to come up.

Mumbai mayor Sunil Prabhu and Rahul Shewale, standing committee chairman of the Sena-run Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, said a proposal to construct a Thackeray memorial inside the mayor’s official bungalow at Shivaji Park was under consideration. Officially, however, the Sena maintained silence on the proposal.