Lata Mangeshkar's brother, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, said today that his family has nothing to do with the demand for a memorial for the legendary singer at Mumbai's Shivaji park, which has become controversial because of an acrimonious political back-and-forth.
"Please stop politicizing the issue of Lata Didi's memorial at Shivaji Park. The demand for it has not come from our family as we don't wish for it, "Hridaynath Mangeshkar said in a fervent appeal in Marathi.
Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena and the opposition BJP have been fighting over a proposed memorial for Lata Mangeshkar, who died at the age of 92 on February 6.
BJP MLA Ram Kadam had written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray demanding a memorial at Shivaji Park, where Lata Mangeshkar was cremated on Sunday. The demand was backed by Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, Shiv Sena's ally in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance.
The BJP's demand puts the Shiv Sena in a tight spot as the party has an emotional connection to the 28-acre public park. Uddhav Thackeray's father, Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, traditionally hosted the party's annual Dussehra rally at the park. The Chief Minister has continued the tradition.
Maharashtra's Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader, Sandeep Deshpande, said petty politics must not be played on this issue. "The Dadar residents have fought for a long time to protect the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park from encroachments. I request everyone not to sacrifice Shivaji Park for their petty party politics, "Mr. Deshpande said in a tweet.
At that, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar dismissed the demand, saying that the memorial must be built befitting the stature accorded to Lata Mangeshkar. "We have all spent our childhood at Shivaji Park and we need to preserve the ground which has produced legendary cricketers," Mr. Ambedkar said of the park, which is also known as the cradle of cricket in India.
The Maharashtra government has decided to set up an international level music academy at Kalina in Mumbai, spread across 2.5 acres, as a tribute to Lata Mangeshkar. The academy will be built at a cost of ₹ 1,200 crore.
"The music academy is the best tribute to Lata Didi," her brother said, supporting the state government's decision.