The bitter feud between the two Sena camps has intensified over who will be allowed to hold the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park on October 5. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday denied permission to both factions to organise the rally there, following which pleas challenging the decision will be heard at the Bombay High Court on Friday.
Even as the HC hearing is awaited, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena camp is confident that they will hold the rally at Shivaji Park. Addressing a rally at NESCO, Goregaon, on Wednesday, Thackeray asserted, “Dussehra gathering will be held at Shivtirtha according to tradition.”
‘Will Use Guerrilla Tactics’ Says Thackeray-led Camp
The Shiv Sena has been holding the rally at Shivaji Park since 1966. However, this year, both factions of the fractured party — one led by former CM Thackeray and the other by current Chief Minister Eknath Shinde — applied for permission to hold the rally there. Mumbai’s civic body denied permission to both citing security concerns. However, the Thackeray-led camp said they will go ahead with the rally “no matter what”.
“We will use guerrilla warfare tactics,” Ajay Choudhary, leader of the Thackeray faction in the Maharashtra assembly, told news agency PTI on Thursday. Terming the denial ‘a bad script by the BJP’, former Mumbai mayor and Thackeray camp spokesperson Kishori Pednekar said, “The rally has been taking place at the Shivaji Park for 56 years. It could not happen for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic… It is a matter of loyalty and tradition.”
Shinde Camp Wins Nod for BKC, Thane
While the dispute over Shivaji Park is on, in a blow to Thackeray’s camp, the ruling Eknath Shinde-led faction has secured permissions at two other locations for Dussehra celebrations.
The Shinde faction last week got MMRDA’s approval to hold their rally at the BKC grounds in Mumbai. The camp also won approval to hold celebrations at Durgadi Fort Temple in Kalyan from the Thane collector. While the Thackeray faction had also applied for permission, they lost to MLA Vishwanth Bhoir of the Shinde camp, as per Times of India.
Responding to the BMC’s denial of permission at Shivaji Park due to a potential ‘law and order situation’ arising, Uddhav Thackeray’s camp said a law and order situation could arise at BKC, where the Shinde camp has won permission, as well, since Matoshree, Thackeray’s residence, is close to it.
HC Hearing Awaited
Despite their assertion to hold the rally at Shivaji Park, Sena leaders from Uddhav’s camp informally admitted that they were looking for other options, as per a report by Hindustan Times.
“Till the time this (the petition in the HC) is decided, we will not chalk out the future course of action. We are sure that the courts will grant their consent for the Dussehra rally (at Shivaji Park),” Shiv Sena leader and former minister Anil Parab told Hindustan Times.
Another senior Shiv Sena leader said the party was “99.99 percent sure” of the ruling going in their favour, as it was their “natural claim” and because they had applied for it first. However, another leader admitted that the party would be in a quandary if the court struck down its demand.
Meanwhile, Kiran Pawaskar, spokesperson of the Shinde camp, said it will keep trying to get the Shivaji Park for its event till the last moment. Responding to Thackeray camp’s ‘guerilla tactics’ assertion, Pawaskar said his group has plans but they would not be guerrilla if disclosed beforehand.
In its letters rejecting the applications, the BMC cited remarks by the Shivaji Park police station that “if any one of the applicants is granted permission to hold the rally, this may create a serious problem of law and order in the sensitive area of Shivaji Park”.
On August 22, Anil Desai of the Thackeray-led Sena had applied to the BMC for permission for Shivaji Park. On August 30, MLA Sada Sarvankar of the Shinde faction also made a similar application. Following the BMC’s decision, the Bombay High Court on Thursday allowed the Thackeray-led Sena to amend its earlier petition so as to challenge the denial of permission. In the original petition, the Sena had sought a direction for the BMC to decide its application.
(With PTI inputs)