The low-key foundation laying function for the Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray’s memorial at the erstwhile Mayor’s bungalow sparked controversy. Although the Shiv Sena led Maha Vikas Aghadi government citing the unabated Covid-19 cases had said that the function will take place with only 50 select invitees in order to avoid crowding, it did not go down well among Shiv Sena’s estranged ally BJP and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Both have slammed the Shiv Sena in particular and the state government in general for not inviting former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and MNS Chief Raj Thackeray.
The function took place in the presence of CM Uddhav Thackeray, DCM Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, and Shiv Sena ministers Subhash Desai, Anil Parab and Eknath Shinde. Party MPs Sanjay Raut, Vinayak Raut, Gajanan Kirtikar, Anil Desai, Rahul Shewale, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar, BMC standing committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav, Shiv Sena house leader Vishakha Raut. However, not a single opposition leader was present as they were not invited and they were urged to participate online. The memorial is proposed to be set up at the cost of Rs 400 crore.
‘’When Fadnavis was the chief minister, he took extra efforts in getting the necessary clearances from the Centre for the memorial. The old mayor's bungalow is a heritage site, still, he helped in obtaining all kinds of nods. Hence, not inviting him to the event shows Shiv Sena's mean treatment," said the leader of opposition in the state council Pravin Darekar (BJP).
MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said, "If several ministers and their staff can attend the event at the old mayor's bungalow, then why not invite Raj Thackeray?"
"Raj Thackeray had served in the Shiv Sena for many years. He has contributed to that party, but selectively not inviting him is not a healthy way of politics," he said.
However, Parab cited that because of the coronavirus pandemic, invitations cannot be sent as online viewing was preferred.