Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday asserted the party's annual Dussehra rally will be held at the traditional Shivaji Park venue in Mumbai and said Sena workers from different cities have begun preparations to reach the state capital.
Thackeray's remarks came against the backdrop of his faction not yet getting a nod from the Mumbai civic body for the rally, a decades-old political event held by the Sena on the sprawling ground and synonymous with the fiery speeches of party founder late Bal Thackeray.
Deepak Kesarkar, the spokesperson of the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs camp led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, said no discussion has taken place on whether they should hold a Dussehra rally.
This will be the first Dussehra rally of the Shiv Sena after the split in the party in June this year. The revolt by a group of Sena legislators had led to the collapse of the Thackeray-led government.
On Saturday, Uddhav Thackeray's son and former state minister Aaditya Thackeray claimed that authorities were not accepting an application from the Shiv Sena to hold its annual Dussehra rally.
Dussehra will be celebrated on October 5.
Talking to reporters on Monday, Uddhav Thackeray said Shiv Sainaiks has begun preparation to come to the Shivaji Park from different parts of the state.
"The Shiv Sena's annual congregation will take place at 'Shivtirth' (the term Sena uses for Shivaji Park)," the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was controlled by the Shiv Sena from 1997 till March this year when the tenure of corporators ended and polls could not take place.
The civic body is currently governed by an administrator.
After the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June, rebel Sena leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister and BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as deputy CM.
"The Shiv Sena is seeking permission for holding its annual Dussehra rally in Mumbai but authorities are not accepting our application. This (Eknath Shinde dispensation) is a repressive government," Aaditya had said.
Kesarkar, who holds the School Education portfolio, said the Shinde government will not view the application with bias and decide after scrutinising it.
Kesarkar added he was not authorised to say what decision the civic body will take on the application.
"The annual Dussehra congregation is a tradition of the Shiv Sena. CM Shinde will comment on whether he should hold a Dussehra rally or not at an appropriate time," he added.
However, unlike Kesarkar, former Thane mayor and Shinde loyalist Naresh Mhaske slammed the Uddhav Thackeray faction for seeking permission from authorities for its annual Dussehra rally.
He said the Thackeray faction had forgotten the principles and ideology of Bal Thackeray and, therefore, had no right to organise the rally.
"They (Thackeray faction) have forsaken the teachings of Balasaheb Thackeray. So what right do they have to hold the Dussehra rally now? It is Chief Minister Eknath Shinde who is taking forwards the Hindutva ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray," Mhaske claimed.
When asked if the rival groups of Shiv Sena will be granted permission for the rally at Shivaji Park, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had last week said, "Whichever event is as per rules and regulations will happen and anything that violates rules will not take place in this government."