Memorial overdose: Please don't change Mumbai to 'Thackeray Mumbai'

by FP Staff  Nov 23, 2012 13:22 IST

#Bal Thackeray   #Maharashtra   #Shiv Sena   #Shivaji park   #WhatNext  

If the Shiv Sena has its way, the landscape of Mumbai will soon be unrecognizable to the common Mumbaikar's mind.

It's been only a week since Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray died and there are already calls for memorials and the renaming of public spots, ostensibly to keep the Maharashtrian leader's memory forever etched in the mindscape of the city. But what will Mumbai look like after that?

Shiv Sainiks back a memorial  at the Shivaji maidan itself, calling it a place of significance for the party. It was here that the party supremo began his political career, and then laid to a rest following a massive public funeral. However, that seems unlikely, as the Shivaji Park Residents' Welfare group has opposed the move saying the grounds' significance goes beyond it being a starting point for Sena-style politics. (Read here)

The party also want the Dadar station renamed after Thackeray, and also perhaps the iconic Churchgate station.

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. AFP

But its not just the Shiv Sena, or even the MNS who want Thackerays name splashed across the city. A few Congress lawmakers are also putting their lot behind getting a memorial for Balasaheb constructed in the city.

Corporators from the Congress and the MNS have proposed that the memorial be constructed on the Indu Mills land in Dadar, according to this report.

However, it's not that simple. If his supporters have their way it won't  be just about a memorial, but a whole lot of other changes.

The Congress and the Republican Party of India (RPI) earlier insisted that Mumbai's Dadar railway station be renamed Chaityaboomi — the memorial of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, but now even they back a call by many to call it instead the Thackeray-Dadar station.

Dadar railway station is crucial to Mumbai as it connects the city to the national railway network.

And the demands don't just stop here.

Yashodhar Phanase, Shiv Sena corporator and leader of the house, demanded that the proposed Nhava-Sewri link and the coastal road (connecting South Mumbai to Kandivli) be named after Balasaheb.

BJP group leader in the BMC, Dilip Patel, wants the Greenfield Navi Mumbai international airport to be named after the Sena chief.

And if lawmakers had their way we wouldn't stop here. A hundred years from now may be Bombay, now Mumbai, would be called Thackeray-Mumbai.

The Shivaji Park Residents' Association is just a small representation of what the common Mumbaikar wants. And Balasaheb supporters, with all due respect to you,  Mumbai's significance transcends Thackeray's take on the Marathi manoos.

Mumbai, as it stands now, is actually a pot-pourri and a small slice of what Indian diversity is all about. Politics in the city, since the advent of Thackeray has focused on the Marathi manoos, and his contribution was accepted by many and has been assimilated in the city.

But, may be it's time to shift gears and think about what the true Mumbaikar, who has integrated himself into the city, wants.

A memorial anywhere would be just fine, for a man whom millions admired. But, please don't change Mumbai into "Thackeray"-Mumbai.

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