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WHY SHIVAJI PARK MATTERS TO SHIV SENA?

Mumbai: When the Bombay High Court on Friday ruled that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena can hold its Dussehra rally at the Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai, Thackeray’s supporters erupted in joy. The dispute over whether it is the Thackeray faction or the one led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde the real Shiv Sena is before the Supreme Court. But for the Thackeray-led Sena, the HC ruling was a symbolic victory in the aftermath of Shinde’s rebellion because the ground is closely associated with the party’s history.

It was here that Sena Founder, Bal Thackeray, held his first rally and addressed several Dussehra rallies thereafter. When he died in November 2012, his cremation was held on the same ground. But it turned into a virtual battleground recently when both the Thackeray group and the Shinde faction staked claim to it for their respective Dussehra rallies. Shinde became chief minister in June this year after splitting the Sena and pulling down the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.Citing a possible law and order problem, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) denied permission to both factions, but on Friday the High Court granted the Thackeray group permission for the rally.Sena’s deputy leader and former Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said the Dussehra rally is now a party tradition. Sena Spokesperson, Arvind Sawant, said that Bal Thackeray continued to hold people in thrall at his Dussehra rallies at Shivaji Park for five decades. “Later, Uddhav ji guided us from there as party chief. So it is naturally our right (to hold the rally there). It also houses the Shakti Sthal (a memorial to Bal Thackeray),” he said.On Friday Uddhav Thackeray won the battle for Shivaji Park. Only time will tell if he is able to win the battle for his father’s party.- PTI

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