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Mumbai’s Shivaji Park — venue for Uddhav’s swearing-in ceremony and its political significance

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Nominee of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress alliance Uddhav Thackeray will be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Thursday, November 28. The swearing-in ceremony will be held at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park, which holds deep historical relevance. Earlier, Thackeray’s oath-taking was scheduled for December 1, but the schedule was apparently changed after Uddhav met Governor Koshyari. 

The rest of the cabinet will be sworn in later. Balasaheb Thorat, leader of the legislative wing of the Congress, confirmed that Thackeray will take oath on November 28. 

Mumbai’s Shivaji Park

Situated in Dadar, Shivaji Park is the largest park in the city. Shivaji Park has witnessed a number of political and social gatherings in the past. Not just the political happenings, the 113,000 square metres (28 acres) open space is renowned as the cradle of Indian cricket. Shivaji Park is considered a platform of opportunities for athletes and sportspersons to excel in their sports careers. Shivaji Park has nets for cricket, a court for tennis, ground for Mallakhamba and much more.

Relevance of Shivaji Park in Mumbai

Constructed in 1925, Shivaji Park has been a venue for gatherings of freedom fighters in British India. Since Independence in 1947, the Shivaji Park has been the focal point of the Samyukta Maharashtra Chalval (the struggle for a consolidated Maharashtra) that led to the present Maharashtra state being formed in 1960.

During this period, the legendary writer, journalist, playwright, poet and social leader Acharya Prahlad Keshav Atre led this movement. He addressed crowds of lakhs at this ground, earning him the title of “Lord of Shivaji Park”. 

Shivaji Park has been integral to the political gatherings of the local party Shiv Sena and has witnessed numerous other political rallies. 

In May 2010, the Bombay High Court had declared the ground as a silence zone after residents filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in September 2009, complaining about the sound pollution in the area on account of the political rallies.

History of Shivaji Park

Shivaji Park was built by the Bombay Municipal Corporation, during the British Rule. The ground was known as the Mahim Park till 1927 when it was named after the legendary 17th-century warrior king of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji at the behest of a municipal councillor, Avantika Gokhale. 

The Shivaji Park Gymkhana, then known as the Dadar Hindu Gymkhana, opened its first Tennis court on the grounds in 1927 and inaugurated its pavilion in November 1931.

How big is Shivaji Park?

The inner circumference of the Shivaji park is 1.17 kilometres (0.73 mi). The maidan covers 112,937 square metres (27.907 acres), more than half of which is occupied by 31 tenants, the largest being clubs like the Shivaji Park Gymkhana, and the Bengal Club. 

The remaining part of the ground and open spaces are available to the public for sports and other activities. Other structures dotting the periphery of the grounds include the Samarth Vyayam Mandir (gymnasium), Shivaji Park Nagarik Sangh (established in 1947), a children’s Park, Nana-Nani Park ( park for senior citizens), Scout’s Pavilion, a Ganesh temple and a library. The walkway is lined with huge rain trees.

The most prominent entrance to the park is the one on the east side, intended only for pedestrians. A bust of Meenatai Thackeray, late wife of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, has been placed at this entrance. 

Previously a bust of Ram Ganesh Gadkari was present at the same spot. Bal Thackeray himself was cremated in the park. 

Also Read | Uddhav Thackeray to take oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister on November 28

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