INDIA: Mumbai: An intense war of attrition between the Shiv Sena headed by Uddhav Thackeray and the breakaway group led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is on the cards on the occasion of Dussehra, with both factions indulging in a show of strength.
As per tradition, the Shiv Sena is organising its rally at historic Shivaji Park at Dadar in Central Mumbai, based on the Bombay High Court’s permission. Whereas the Shinde faction is organising its rally at MMRDA’s ground at Bandra-Kurla Complex in North West Mumbai.
The Shiv Sena has been organising its Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park since 1966, a tradition started by the Shiv Sena patriarch, the late Balasaheb Thackeray.
A pooja of weapons is performed as part of the function, and the leaders address the large gathering of Shiv Sainiks (party workers).The workers from different parts of the state have already reached the city. Besides, some hardcore followers have arrived even from abroad, including the USA.
The Shiv Sena leader, Aditya Thackeray, reached Shivaji Park on Tuesday evening and took stock of the arrangement. He also paid respect to the late Balasaheb Thackeray (his grandfather) at his memorial.
The Dussehra rally has been an integral aspect of the Shiv Sena’s outreach strategy and has an almost sacrosanct place in the annual traditions of the party since it was founded on June 19, 1966, by Balasaheb Thackeray to take up the Sons-of-the-Soil cause.
The first Dussehra rally was held on October 30, 1966, around four months after the party had dried up. It was addressed by Balasaheb and his father, Prabodhankar Thackeray.
This year, it is a chance for the Thackeray and Shinde factions to show their strength since the Shinde faction has been claiming to be the ‘real’ Shiv Sena.
This despite the fact that over 150 executive committee members of the party have pledged support to Uddhav Thackeray who remains the working president of the party till 2023.
The issue of the rebellion by the Shinde faction and the claim over the party name and symbol is pending before the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India.
The Shiv Sena patriarch was cremated at Shivaji Park in 2012 with full state honors. This is also where the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP government (1995) and Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government (2019) were sworn in.
Balasaheb had made many milestone announcements at the Dussehra rally. They included issues such as the plight of Kashmiri Hindus displaced due to militancy, certain “anti-Hindu” court verdicts, and a ban on cricket with Pakistan.
He had also launched the party’s youth wing, the “Yuva Sena,” under the leadership of his grandson Aaditya in 2010, who was 20 years old then. In 2019, Aaditya became the first Thackeray to contest an election and won the Worli assembly election.
The Shinde faction has also made an elaborate arrangement to ensure crowds at BKC Ground by hiring the buses of the state transport corporation to bring in supporters from different parts of Maharashtra.
The Congress and NCP leaders have sought to know how Shinde managed to spend thousands of crores on hiring buses. They have also asked whether an inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate will be launched against him. Nearly 50 MLAs and 12 MPs of the breakaway faction are expected to participate in the rally.
Shinde has also released a banner claiming that his faction is the heir of Balasaheb’s preaching. The banner carries the photo of the Sena patriarch and the late Anand Dighe, the leader from Thane. He has also released a song claiming the legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Given the anticipated huge crowds, the Mumbai police have imposed several restrictions to regulate the traffic on Wednesday.
Also Read: SC Allows EC to Decide Plea by Eknath Shinde Faction for Real Shiv Sena Tag