The Shiv Sena may not show any signs of vacating a corner of Shivaji Park in central Mumbai where the party's founder, Bal Thackeray, was cremated, but the Chief Minister is not backing down either, saying that there is no question of relenting on the issue and the party's activists will have to follow the rule of law.
"Shivaji Park was given for Bal Thackeray's cremation on the grounds that it will be returned in the same condition. We want the Shiv Sena to abide by the conditions and follow the law," Prithviraj Chavan said in an interview to CNN-IBN.
Shiv Sena activists have been guarding the spot where Thackeray's cremation was carried out and have refused to relent to pleas to vacate the ground despite the fact that the Army is scheduled to hold a function at the ground later this week.
The city's civic body, in which the Shiv Sena holds power, has also agreed to convert the official residence of Mayor located a short distance away from the cremation point into a memorial for the party's founder.
However, the activists have shown no signs of leaving the venue.
“Come what may, we won’t allow the removal of the 30×30 feet chowthara (platform),” Sena legislator Eknath Shinde told reporters on Sunday.
CNN-IBN reported that groups of party activists are still guarding the location day and night to prevent the platform from being moved from the park, the location of the party's annual speech that was invariably addressed by Thackeray.
The state's Congress has also said it will prevent the Shiv Sena from going ahead with its plan to rename the historic park as 'Shiv Tirth', a term that Thackeray used to describe the park in his speeches.
"The Shiv Sena is trying to bring in a proposal in this regard in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Congress corporators will strongly oppose renaming of Shivaji Park as 'Shiv Tirth'," a statement issued by the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee said.
The park had been named after the Maratha warrior king Shivaji in 1927 by the British government and ironically the party's activists claim to be followers of ideals laid down by the king.
with inputs from PTI