After both feuding factions of the Shiv Sena were denied permission to hold the party’s annual Dussehra Rally on October 5 at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park, the one led by Uddhav Thackeray says it’ll go go ahead “no matter what”. “We will use guerrilla warfare tactics,” Ajay Choudhary, leader of the Thackeray faction in the Maharashtra assembly, told news agency PTI.
“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,” said former Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar, a spokesperson of the Thackeray-led Sena, terming the denial “a bad script by the BJP”.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), currently run by an administrator, said “no” citing fears of “a law and order situation” at the venue if permission was given to any one camp.
While the rebel group led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde hasn’t yet reacted, the camp led by Uddhav Thackeray, who technically remains Shiv Sena chief, was already in the High Court for permission to hold the October 5 rally at Shivaji Park. The hearing is set for tomorrow.
Unseated as Chief Minister in a coup four months ago, Uddhav Thackeray has been asserting that the rally will “certainly” be held at the venue that’s synonymous with fiery speeches of his late father, party founder Bal Thackeray. But Mr Shinde’s faction wanted the same venue as it also claims Bal Thackeray’s “original” legacy of “Hindutva and Marathi pride”.
The BMC, which appears to have skirted a row, was controlled by the Shiv Sena from 1997 to March this year, when the tenure of corporators ended and polls could not take place. And then the Sena split in June. The civic body is currently governed by an officer as administrator.
Eknath Shinde’s camp does have a backup plan — it has permission for a ground in Bandra Kurla Complex — but Team Thackeray is all-in on Shivaji Park.
This is the first Dussehra since the split, when the Shinde faction partnered with the BJP to form a new government, replacing Uddhav Thackeray’s Sena-Congress-NCP setup. Mr Shinde said this was only a resumption of the partnership with “natural ally” BJP. Mr Thackeray had junked ideological differences while dumping the BJP despite winning the last elections together, the Shinde faction has underlined.