Maha CM lays foundation for Bal Thackeray memorial; BJP, MNS not invited

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Mumbai, Mar 31 (PTI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday laid the foundation stone of late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray's memorial at Dadar in central Mumbai, even as the opposition BJP and the MNS slammed the state government for not inviting their party leaders to the function.

The event took place in the former official mayoral bungalow near Shivaji Park, where the memorial is proposed to be set up at the cost of Rs 400 crore.

State Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, Revenue Minister and Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat, among others, were present on the occasion.

Approval for the project had been given during the tenure of previous chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is now the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly.

However, the state government did not invite Fadnavis as well as Uddhav's cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray for the event citing the spike in COVID-19 cases.

The BJP and the MNS criticised the Shiv Sena-led dispensation over it.

'When Fadnavis was the chief minister, he took extra efforts in getting the necessary clearances from the Centre for the memorial. 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,' BJP's Pravin Darekar, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, said.

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.

In the first phase of the memorial construction, Rs 250 crore will be spent on the works like electrification and parking facility. The first phase is likely to be completed in 14 months.

The Shiv Sena is in power in the state with the NCP and the Congress. These three parties had joined hands after the 2019 Assembly polls results to keep the BJP way from power. PTI ND NP NP