HOURS before Chief Minister Eknath Shinde arrived in Pune city on Tuesday, the inauguration of a new civic garden that was ‘named after him’ was cancelled. Later, Shinde pulled up former corporator Pramod Bhangire who had named the garden after him.
“Why did you name the garden after me …You should have named it after (late Shiv Sena leader) Anand Dighe,” said the chief minister. Shinde said local leaders have been directed to name the garden ‘Dharamveer Anand Dighe garden’.
Shinde, the leader of the rebel Sena faction, visited Pune for the first time on Tuesday after becoming the chief minister. He is currently on a statewide tour in support of legislators and leaders who have joined him after parting ways with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
After a citizens’ group objected to the garden in Hadapsar being named ‘Eknath Shinde Garden’, the former corporator covered up the board with a piece of cloth and announced cancellation of the inauguration.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Bhangire said he belongs to the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena and the garden was set up by his family’s trust, which has spent Rs 10 lakh on it.
“Two or three days ago, I had, on my own, put up a board, calling it the ‘Eknath Shinde Garden’… Now, I have come know that a citizens’ group is protesting the naming of the garden. Therefore, I decided to cover up the board with a piece of cloth. I will now leave it to the PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) to decide the name of the garden,” he said.
Bhangire said the land on which the garden is located belongs to the PMC and Shinde didn’t know that the garden was being named after him.
“The garden has been set up on a 16 guntha land belonging to the PMC. The land had turned into a dumping ground. Local residents had been protesting against it. They had been urging me to get the plot converted into a garden. Therefore, I took the initiative to do so. Through my family’s trust, we spent Rs 10 lakh for setting up the garden. The garden also has gym equipment,” he said.
Bhangire said he regretted his action. “I should not have put up the board…I have already expressed regret over it,” he said.
The former corporator said he had undertaken various development projects in Hadapsar area with the help of Shinde, who was earlier the state urban development minister in the Maha Vikas Agahdi government.
Activist Vinita Deshmukh, a member of the Salisbury Park Resident’s Forum, said, “When we learnt that the garden has been named after the chief minister, we immediately took up the issue with him and the deputy chief minister. I tweeted about the illegality of the issue… The CM has taken action it and I have been told that he will not inaugurate the garden named after him. This is indeed a positive development…. we have also been fighting for months over the naming of a garden in Salisbury Park area after a former corporator’s father, but so far the government has not acted on it.”
Deshmukh said a resolution passed by the civic general body over 20 years ago clearly states that civic gardens should be named only after a national leader or famous environmentalists.
Meanwhile, the PMC administration said it was unaware of a civic garden being named after the chief minister. “… We are not aware that the garden is being named after Eknath Shinde as there is no resolution to that effect in the PMC,” said a civic officer.
Shiv Sena leader Sachin Ahir, however, said the rebel faction of the Sena was “hungry for publicity” so the garden had been named after its leaders. “We would have appreciated if the garden was named after Sena supremo Bal
Thackeray but they are not doing that,” he said.