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Sharad Pawar supports Uddhav Thackeray on controversy between Sena factions over holding Dussehra rally


Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday lent his full support to his Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ally, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s demand to hold the hold annual Dussehra rally in Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park, in Dadar. Speaking to newspersons in Solapur district, the NCP president said that after 40 years of late Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray beginning the tradition of addressing the Dussehra rally, the Sena had come to be equated with the gathering at the Shivaji Park.

The NCP president remarked, “For the last 30-40 years, the Shiv Sena under Balasaheb Thackeray has been holding the rally in Shivaji Park. Today, the Sena is working under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray. Considering that it is their tradition to hold the rally, their (Uddhav Thackeray faction) demand to stage it in Shivaji Park is not wrong.”

NCP president Sharad Pawar also said that Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s breakaway Sena faction, too, had the right to hold Dussehra Melava.

However, considering that the Shinde-led Sena faction had asked permission for and been granted the venue in the Bandra-Kurla Complex to hold the Dussehra rally, there was no reason for them to oppose others (Thackeray faction).

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has green-lighted the Shinde camp’s application to hold the rally at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), but rejected the Uddhav Thackeray faction’s application to hold the rally at another plot in the BKC on grounds that it had already been booked for another event.

Both rival factions had approached MMRDA authorities as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials are yet to decide on the applications of both factions to hold the October 5 Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Dadar.

In a veiled jibe aimed at the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis government, Pawar said that no one could oppose granting permission for a programme to a political party just because its ideology was different.

The NCP has been backing the Uddhav camp’s demand to stage the Dussehra gathering since the controversy began, with NCP State President Jayant Patil earlier remarking that only a rally presided by the Thackeray family could be said to be a ‘legitimate’ one.

When asked to comment upon whether the various opposition parties across the country will contest in a grand alliance for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the NCP chief said that no decision had been taken yet despite thinking on those lines by leaders of several regional parties.

Replying further he said, “Everyone wants to do something together. However, no planning has been done in this regard yet. Both (Bihar Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar and (West Bengal CM) Mamata Banerjee have met me and expressed their views. But it has not translated into any concrete decision.”

Sharad Pawar further clarified that Congress was “not an obstacle” in the move towards building a ‘grand alliance’ of regional parties, stressing that no one should advocate the stance taken by some opposition leaders that the Congress should not be taken along.


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