In what comes as a dampener for opposition parties holding the 'Save Constitution' rally here on January 26, the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) today said the sit-in venue of the protest has already been booked by the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.
The 'Save Constitution' march organisers approached the MbPT yesterday seeking permission but that space was already booked by the minorities department of the state government, Port chairman Sanjay Bhatia told PTI.
The minorities department holds a "mushaira" (poetic meet) at the Gateway of India promenade ever year on Republic Day, the senior IAS officer said.
If the rally organisers want to go ahead with their plan, they should "coordinate" with the "mushaira" organisers, Bhatia said, adding the Central government-run MbPT has "no issue" with anyone holding an event there.
It is a day-long booking done for the "mushaira" as its organisers put up a stage at the venue, he added.
The Port charges Rs 2.5 lakh per day for use of the space but may not charge the amount from the "mushaira" organisers as it is a government event, Bhatia said.
Non-BJP parties and civil society groups are planning the 'Save Constitution' rally on January 26, alleging that the founding document of the Constitution is under threat under the BJP regime.
Top leaders from the Congress, NCP, CPI(M), CPI, Janata Dal (Secular) and RJD are expected to attend the event, which will culminate with a nearly two-hour sit-in near the Shivaji Statue next to the Gateway of India.
The march is being seen as an attempt to consolidate anti-BJP forces ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
NCP president Sharad Pawar, former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, communist leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Dalit MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani and Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel are among those expected to attend the opposition's march.
Independent MP from Maharashtra Raju Shetti, the convener of the march, told PTI that participants will gather at Dr B R Ambedkar's statue near Mumbai university around 1 pm, and walk to Shivaji Maharaj's statue at the Gateway of India.
"This will be a silent morcha (march). After reaching the Gateway, they will stage a sit-in for some time. There will be no speeches," he said.
Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, is also expected to attend, and efforts were on to get leaders of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress to participate in the march, sources close to Shetti said.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP is organising 'Tiranga Yatra' in the city on the same day, apparently to counter the opposition's event.
The BJP has dubbed the rally at Kamgar Maidan as 'Samvidhan Samman rally'.
The procession will start from Chaityabhumi, the memorial of Dr B R Ambedkar in Dadar, before reaching Kamgar Maidan in central Mumbai.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)