SHIVAJI PARK had taken on a saffron hue on Tuesday with Uddhav Thackeray keen to put up one of his biggest shows of strength at the annual Dussehra rally on Wednesday evening.
Sainiks from across the state had already started gathering at the ground to witness the preparations going on in full swing. Many of the visitors had come from outside Mumbai, some from outside the state as well.
“I’ve come from Jharkhand to support Uddhav Thackeray and expand the party further in states like mine,” said Shankar Mandal, a Shiv Sainik.
“I have come from Chalisgaon. We are expecting over 500 people from my village alone. We need to put up a strong show because it is about the honour of the Shiv Sena,” said Subhash Rathod.
Like them, several thousand Thackeray supporters from the hinterland have reached Mumbai in buses, trains, and private vehicles. A contingent of 300 Sainiks from Beed claimed they had walked all the way from their village for the rally.
While most of the Sainiks were euphoric about Wednesday’s rally, there was also palpable anger against the Shinde camp.
“Tomorrow’s programme will revive the Sena once again. Eknath Shinde is a traitor and he has kept the promise made to Balasaheb Thackeray that we will all support Uddhav. Tomorrow’s rally will show Shinde his place,” Ganesh Mane from Latur said.
Meanwhile, local Sainiks were pulling out all stops to make sure the rally was a success.
“We will have at least 2-3 lakh people from different parts of Maharashtra here tomorrow. The rally is happening after two years but there is no change in the scale of the programme. We have arranged for loudspeakers outside also. And if there is a larger gathering [than anticipated], we can arrange for TV screens also,” said Sena leader Mahesh Sawant, who was at the ground supervising and helping with the preparations.