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Dussehra rally: Stage set for Shinde versus Uddhav clash

Mumbai: Battle lines have been drawn yet again as the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s rebel group prepare to fight over the right to hold party’s annual Dussehra rally at the iconic Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai on Vijayadashami this year.

Traditionally, the Shiv Sena has held its annual Dussehra rally at the ground—which is renowned for being the learning place of many cricketing talents from Mumbai—for the last 56 years. The public event, held at Mumbai’s famous Shivaji Park, is a decades-old annual tradition of the Sena, and used to be synonymous with fiery speeches by its founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray.

Rebel Sena MLA, Sada Sarvankar, who represents the constituency where the ground is located, has conventionally submitted the application to book it for the Shiv Sena. But, now he is in the Shinde camp. “I have not submitted a booking application for the ground this year. But, if CM Shinde intends to address the Dussehra rally there, I can do it.”

At the moment, Thackeray-led Sena is the sole applicant seeking to hire the ground for the rally. Incidentally, it is also the place where the former state chief minister had been appointed as the working president of the party in 2006.

Former Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar— who is part of Thackeray’s faction—said, “The rally was an annual feature for over five decades when Balasaheb roared first. Then, Uddhav Thackeray addressed the mammoth gathering of Shiv sainiks assembled at the ground. This time, however, the challenge posed may be political in nature with the Shinde camp keen to usurp the space that is held by the Shiv Sena.”

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