First statue of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray unveiled in Mumbai

Last Modified Saturday, 23 January 2021 (22:03 IST)
Mumbai: Nine years after his death, the maximum city got the first life-size bronze honouring the memory of the ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ on his 95th birth anniversary on Saturday.

Amid a shower of flowers, applause and playing of drums, his son and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray unveiled the statue, depicting late Mr Thackeray in his classical pose with both arms in the air, as he used to gesticulate during his famed annual Dassehra gatherings at historical Shivaji Park ground and even during political rallies.
 
Appropriately, the familiar opening words of his major speeches have been inscribed in large Marathi letters on the pedestal of the statue: “Jamlelya majha tamaam Hindu bandhavano, bhaginino ani matano” (All my Hindu brothers, sisters and mothers assembled here).
 
Even today, a galaxy of political leaders across the political spectrum assembled to witness the celebratory event as CM Thackeray unveiled the statue with the entire Thackeray clan around him in strength at a prominent spot near Colaba in south Mumbai, this evening.
 
The 9-feet tall bronze statue, atop an 11-feet high pedestal, erected on a 2-feet high landscaped portion within a traffic island near the National Gallery of Modern Art, has been sculpted by eminent artist Shashikant Wadke, who said he had scanned hundreds of photos and videos of Mr Thackeray to get the “right expressions”.
 
Incidentally, Mr Wadke, who lives near the Thackeray family’s home in Bandra (east), has earlier created statues of Bal Thackeray’s wife Meenatai, and his father Keshav alias Prabodhankar Thackeray.
 
Present to witness the ceremony - free of speeches - were Uddhav, his wife Rashmi, son and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, his cousin and MNS president Raj Thackeray and his son Amit and other members of the Thackeray clan.
 
Also attending were Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, NCP state chief Jayant Patil, Congress state president Balasaheb Thorat, Republican Party of India (A) president and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (Assembly) and Pravin Darekar (Council).
 
The Chief Minister said he was overwhelmed by the turnout for the statue unveiling and expressed gratitude to all the dignitaries for coming to pay their respects to the ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’.
 
While a grand memorial to the Sena founder is coming up at the erstwhile Mayor’s Bungalow at Shivaji Park and earlier a 22-feet tall statue of the leader came up in Navi Mumbai.
 
Certain other landmarks named after him include the BMC’s Trauma Care Hospital in Jogeshwari, under-construction Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway, an international zoo at Gorewada in Nagpur with demands to name upcoming second international airport in Navi after Bal Thackeray. (UNI)