In fresh showdown in the Sena vs Sena tussle, both Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray-led factions of Shiv Sena have approached the Bombay High Court over Dussehra rally at the Shivaji Park in Mumbai, a venue where Bal Thackeray held his first official rally on the Dussehra of 1966.

Mumbai’s Shivaji Park takes spotlight in the not-so-cut-and-dried ongoing dispute between CM Eknath Shinde and former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to emerge rightful claimants to the Shiv Sena’s name, symbol (a bow and arrow), and legacy.

Both the factions were denied permission on Thursday morning by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for holding Dussehra rally at the Shivaji Park in Mumbai, citing law and order issue raised by Mumbai Police.

BMC Denies Permission for Dussehra Rally to Both Factions

BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that the civic administration has denied permission to both the Shiv Sena factions for holding a rally at the Shivaji Park on the occasion of Dussehra on October 5. The civic body has sent letters to both the factions conveying about the denial of permission, officials said.

The permission has been denied on the basis of law and order concerns raised by Mumbai Police, according to civic officials.

According to the BMC, the Shivaji Park police in their feedback said the permission for rally to any of the two factions could lead to a “serious problem of law and order in the sensitive Shivaji Park area”.

On August 22, Anil Desai of the Thackeray-led Sena had applied to the BMC for permission to hold the rally at the Shivaji park in central Mumbai. Later, on August 30, MLA Sada Sarvankar of the Shinde faction had also applied for nod from the civic body’s G-North ward for holding the Dussehra rally at the park.

While Bombay HC was scheduled to hear on Thursday the plea of Shiv Sena’s Thackeray faction seeking nod for the rally from BMC, the hearing was deferred after the faction sought time to amend their petition. The hearing has now been scheduled for Friday, September 23.

Meanwhile, MLA Sada Sarvankar, of the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena, had filed an intervention plea in the Bombay High Court on Thursday, seeking the court to not hear or decide the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s petition for permission to hold their annual Dussehra rally. The hearing on this, too, will take place tomorrow.

Shivaji Park Turns Battleground for Sena vs Sena Over Dussehra Celebration

The Shiv Sena vs Shiv Sena battle took yet another turn ahead of the festive season as Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction got the nod to hold its Dussehra rally at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) ground in Mumbai — a location also sought by the Uddhav Thackeray camp.

For the Shiv Sena, the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park is a major annual event and while that stays the original choice for both factions, they had also filed an application seeking permission to use the BKC ground.

Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, while speaking to the media few days ago, demanded that the Thackeray camp should be allowed to use Shivaji Park as per the first-come, first-served formula applied by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) while granting permission to the Shinde faction.

Shivaji Park becomes a key flashpoint between the two factions of Shiv Sena as staking claim to the venue — closely associated with the formation and growth of the saffron outfit — is not just a factional war; it sends a message to the party cadre about establishing who the “original” Sena is.

Since 1966, when Sena supremo Bal Thackeray founded the party, the Dussehra rally has been an annual tradition. On October 30, 1966, the firebrand leader used the Dussehra rally to lay out the agenda for the party and since then, the premises became synonymous with his rousing speeches.

Shivaji Park remained a stage for generations of Thackerays as Uddhav Thackeray, in November 2019, took oath as the Maharashtra chief minister at the premises, where his father was cremated in 2012. His son Aaditya’s political innings also began from the park in 2010 with a rally.

Thackeray vs Shinde Rivalry During Ganesh Chaturthi

The Thackeray vs Shinde rivalry over Shiv Sena claim in Maharashtra found its way into the Ganesh Chaturthi festival as well with CM Shinde touring Ganpati pandals in a bid to establish presence of his faction in a city where supporters of Shiv Sena have traditionally been loyal to the Uddhav Thackeray.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde reportedly went on an ‘outreach’ overdrive, visiting about 50-60 local Ganpati pandals in the city each day.

Meanwhile, the two factions were even seen clashing during a Ganpati visarjan procession in the Dadar area of Mumbai. A reception counter was set up by both the Shinde faction and the Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena in Dadar for Ganesh Visarjan. Workers from both groups reportedly mocked and fought with each other in these reception rooms and even raised slogans against each other.

The argument, which took place on the night of the Ganpati Visarjan procession, turned into a scuffle after a social media post. Shinde group’s member Santosh Telwane had targeted the Shiv Sena by posting a video on Facebook.

In another incident, a public Ganesh mandal in Kalyan neighbouring Mumbai refused to install the idol and perform puja after the police removed pandal decorations designed on the theme of the ‘split’ in the Shiv Sena during Ganesh Chaturthi.

“Our Vijay Tarun Mandal has been celebrating Ganesh festival for 59 years. We chose a theme based on the burning topic of the year. This year, we had chosen the political theme where we had shown Shiv Sena as an age-old tree which cannot be uprooted even if few branches are cut or fruits are snatched,” Shiv Sena leader Vijay Salvi, who is known to be a loyalist of Uddhav Thackeray, was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

Sena Tussle During Dahi Handi

The Sena claim battle was seen during Dahi Handi too when both factions went all out to woo ‘govindas’ as the festival, a major one in Mumbai, was being celebrated after two years of in a grand scale after two years of subdued revelry.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced his decision to accord adventure sport status to Dahi Handi, allowing young participants (called govindas) in Dahi Handi events, organised to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna, to apply for government jobs under the sports quota.

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The Thackeray-led faction of Shiv Sena, meanwhile, organised ‘Nishtha Dahi Handi’ opposite it’s headquarter of Sena Bhavan. Aaditya Thackeray also visit the dahi handis organised by his party leaders.

The Nishtha Dahi Handi event by Thackeray faction was a counter to Shinde who organised a dahi handi at Thane, which was originally launched by his mentor late Anand Dighe.

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