Uddhav Thackeray seems to have landed on his feet again when the Bombay High Court allowed his Shiv Sena faction to hold its annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on October 5 this year.
The victory is a clear morale booster for Thackeray and his supporters, who have been battling the breakaway Eknath Shinde group for legitimacy since June this year.
Thackeray had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to revoke the recognition of Shinde-allied MLAs, but in the absence of that ruling, today’s Bombay High Court decision effectively legitimizes the Uddhav-led Shiv Sena.
The court rejected the intervention of Sada Sarvankar of the Shinde faction and held that there was no political tension between the two factions and gave permission to Uddhav as a matter of right in practice.
The Shiv Sena, founded by Uddhav’s father Bal Thackeray, has been holding an annual Dussehra Melawa (Dussehra Milan or Meet) at Shivaji Park since 1966. But in the first decade of this century, the Bombay High Court banned non-sporting activities here. Shivaji Park (which is a popular ground for cricket practice) and prevented political parties from routinely dedicating the ground for their shows of strength.
But later, over protest by political parties, the High Court agreed to hear petitions for permissions on a case-by-case basis and allowed the city people 45 days to hold non-sports events at Shivaji Park, including political rallies, every year. .
Four years before Bal Thackeray’s death, the Shiv Sena sought and received such permission. Thackeray’s funeral, a massive affair in 2012, was held at Shivaji Park, an indelible part of the rise of the Shiv Sena, including election rallies, in which nearly two lakh people gathered in Bombay and thronged the surrounding streets. At this park.
However, later, the Prithviraj Chavan-led Congress government in Maharashtra denied Shiv Sena permission to set up a memorial at the corner where Bal Thackeray was cremated to the ground. On the instructions of the then Union Minister Sharad Pawar, the memorial was permanently shifted to the Mumbai Mayor’s bungalow opposite it.
The incoming Devendra Fadnavis government accepted the proposal and earmarked annual funds for the memorial in an attempt to rebuild ties with the Shiv Sena after it severed its 25-year ties in 2014.
In 2016, the government directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to conduct Dussehra Melawas regularly every year when it applied for permission. This is Fadnavis’ olive branch to appease his ally and get complacent with the alliance.
The order itself emerged as a defense to the rally today and a division bench comprising Justices RD Dhanuka and Kamal Khata rejected the BMC’s case that it could lead to clashes between the two communities and create a law and order situation.
BMC’s move of rejection seemed spurred as they sat on Shiv Sena’s application for nearly ten days, but rejected Sarvankar’s application on behalf of the Shinde group within two hours.
Although the Shiv Sena rules the corporation, which is currently in full term and the body has been disbanded due to fresh elections, an administrator, a former municipal commissioner who is accountable to the government, is running its affairs.
So it is not surprising that Thackeray’s application was rejected along with Shinde’s application with seemingly fair and equal interest.
However, the court was not convinced by the BMC’s decision or the police’s concern that there had never been any violence in or around the park during the annual Dussehra rallies for six decades.
Politically, the court’s decision is likely to bolster Uddhav Thackeray’s bid for legitimacy among Shiv Sena supporters and come as a blow to the Shinde faction.
Earlier, Shinde’s team was given permission to hold its first Dussehra rally at the BKC grounds in suburban Bandra, where most political rallies have shifted due to the High Court ban on Shivaji Park.
However, Uddhav has been reiterating for almost a month now that he will hold his rally at Shivaji Park with or without permission and that he has already activated all the programmes. Branches across the state to gather in the park on Vijayadashami.
The latest announcement came when Uddhav addressed a rally two days ago on Wednesday Gut celebrities In it he excoriated Shinde with a mixture of sarcasm and abuse.
“We have heard of gangs kidnapping children, but this is the first time a child (Aulad) seems to be trying to kidnap the father,” he said, referring to Shinde’s declaration of his party as Shiv Sena’s party of Bal Thackeray.
He did not spare Union Home Minister Amit Shah either. Shah, who was on a visit to Mumbai for Ganapati darshan, called on the party workers to teach Uddhav Thackeray a lesson for betraying their alliance.
“There are many foxes (Geeder) roaming around Maharashtra these days, Shah is one of them,” he said in his late father’s style, which Shiv Sainiks miss a lot.
Uddhav Shinde refers to the group as ‘Minde’ (rhymes with Shinde) – roughly translated into Hindi/Urdu as ‘.Ehsan Faramosh’ or a traitor.
Shinde, who has been camping in New Delhi for the past few days, responded to this. “We know who is the ‘mind’ who broke with BJP to ally with Congress and NCP. Calling us father kidnappers? We will show who their real fathers are,” he said.
Clearly, today’s moral victory over the legal grounds of the right of succession is the recognition that the son is the legitimate political heir of the father.