MUMABI – Bal Thackeray (86), founder of the Shiv Sena passed away at his residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra around 3.30 pm on Saturday. After his demise, son Uddhav has been taken ill. Close family members including nephew Raj Thackeray and his wife were at Thackeray’s side.
Thackeray had been critically ill for the last few days and the condition of the 86-year-old Sena patriarch worsened on Wednesday night when he had to be put on life support. He was taken off life support later after showing signs of improvement.
Thackeray had been suffering from lung and pancreatic ailments and had been under the supervision of doctors for the past two weeks. He was admitted to hospital for a week in July following fever, stomach pain and problems.
He is survived by two sons Uddhav and Jaidev and their families. While Uddhav who now runs the Sena, lived with Thackeray, Jaidev moved out several years ago and the father-son shared strained ties. Thackeray’s another son Bindumadhav died in an accident 15 years ago. His family also lives in Mumbai.
Raj Thackeray and his family reached Matoshree late Wednesday night, soon followed by top Sena leaders including Manohar Joshi, Leeladhar Dake, Sanjay Raut and Ramdas Kadam. Actor Amitabh Bachchan went to the Thackeray residence around midnight.
Popularly known as the Hindu Hriday Samrat (ruler of Hindu hearts), Thackeray had single handedly created and then transformed the Shiv Sena from a rag tag bunch of street youth in 1966 into a formidable political force which governed the state of Maharashtra for a period of four years from 1995 to 1999 along with its Hindutva ally the BJP.
Referred by many as the uncrowned King of Mumbai, Thackeray, a cartoonist by profession made space for himself in Maharashtras political arena in the 1960s by addressing the concerns of Maharashtrians who increasingly felt marginalized and deprived of the opportunities in the fast developing metropolis of Mumbai.
In the five decades of the Senas existence, Thackeray formed an alliance with almost all political parties including the Congress, Socialist and even the Muslim League at various points of time to further his own cause.
Thackeray, however, had an anathema of adorning any constitutional posts and was happy in governing through remote control.
The Sena supremos darkest political hour was when he was personally indicted by the Srikrishna Commission Report for directing a pogrom of violence against Muslims in Mumbai in December 1992-January 1993.
An astute politician, Thackeray was also well known for being a lover of the good life and had a huge friend circle amongst Mumbais filmstars. His penchant for sipping warm beer had now given way to having a glass of red wine suggested by doctors.
In short, Thackeray defied every political stereotype. As it is popularly said you could like him, you could desist him but you could never ignore him.
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