Even as the legacy of the Shiv Sena founder Pal Thackeray is contested in the Maharashtra political arena, the statue of the Shiv Sena founder takes center stage at Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Chowk in Colaba in Mumbai. Surprisingly, this is the first statue of the influential Chief Sena in the city and appeared in January 2021. The city already had statues of his father Prabodhankar Thackeray and his mother Minatai Thackeray, both located in Dadar.
Mumbai’s life-size nine-foot bronze statue, which was perched atop an 11-foot-high pedestal and erected on a two-foot-high section of the landscape inside a traffic island near the National Gallery of Modern Art, opened on the 95th anniversary of Thackeray’s birth on 23 January last year. The opening ceremony saw a group of Maharashtra politicians, the Thackeray family including Raj Thackeray, NCP Chairman Sharad Pawar and then opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis, among others.
The opening lines of Pal Thackeray’s sermons, “Jamlelya maj… tamam Hindu bandhavano, bhaginino ani Matano (All my Hindu brothers, sisters and mothers gather here)” are written below the statue. Many believed that the inscription was one way to show Shiv Sena’s Hindutva tendencies at a time when they were in coalition with the NCP and Congress as part of the Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) government in the state.
Shashikant Wadke, who sculpted the statue, is a resident of Kallanagar in Bandra (east) and is also the person who sculpted the statues of Prabudhankar and Menatai Thackeray in Dadar. Watch about 150 photos and videos of your friend to get his expression right. In the statue, Balasaheb is looking at Shiv Sainiks, he has a smile and at the same time his serious expression is also captured.
The statue initially faced opposition from local residents in 2019 on the grounds that as per the Supreme Court order, no statues should be installed on public roads because sedation events cause inconvenience to pedestrians and also lead to traffic jams. However, after the approval of the local authorities, the statue was given the go-ahead.
Prior to this, the son of Balasaheb and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray in 2017 inaugurated a 22-foot-tall bronze statue of Bal Thackeray in Kalyan (west) that was installed by Kalyan Dumbivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC).