Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray dies at 86 in Mumbai after prolonge
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray dies at 86 in Mumbai after prolonge illness
Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray died on Saturday in Mumbai after prolonged illness. The 86-year-old Thackeray, who founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 to fight for the rights of Maharashtrians, was suffering from lungs and pancreatic ailments and had been put on life-support system for the last few days.
Announcing his death outside Thackeray residence 'Matoshree', the doctor said that Balasaheb breathed his last at 3.30 pm on Saturday.
According to sources, the funeral procession of the Shiv Sena founder would begin at 10 am on Sunday and Thackeray is likely to be cremated at 4 pm at Shivaji Park crematorium.
Reacting to the news, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj posted a tweet saying: "I am terribly pained to hear that the Lion is dead." She further announced the cancellation of the dinner of BJP leaders with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, scheduled for Saturday night.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar termed Thackeray's demise as the loss of a very great fighting leader. "We have lost a very great fighting leader and a great person...he was the tallest leader of our alliance in Maharashtra," he said.
The Congress also recalled the important role played by Balasaheb in the politics of Maharashtra, expressing grief over the demise of the politician.
Reacting to the news, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "Bal Thackeray had an important role to play in Maharashtra politics. Shiv Sena was known after his name...we pray for his family and supporters. May the almighty give them the power to pass through this tough phase."
Congress leader Milind Deora also expressed grief over Thackeray's demise as he tweeted: "Ideologies & politics aside, Balasaheb was unique & his influence on Maharashtra politics is undeniable. Often imitated but never duplicated."
Meanwhile, the Mumbai police said that over 20,000 police personnel had been deployed across the Maharashtra capital to avoid any law-and-order problem. Maharashtra has been put on high alert for the next 24 hours.
The body of the Shiv Sena founder would be kept at the Shivaji Park from 7 am on Sunday where the supporters could pay their last respect to him, said Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut while talking to mediapersons outside 'Matoshree'.
Thackeray started his politics with anti-South Indian agitation to protect the jobs of locals. Thackeray later embraced Hindutva and tied up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Before entering politics, Thackeray was a political cartoonist with English language daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, which he quit in 1960 to launch a cartoon weekly Marmik. His cartoons were also published in the Sunday edition of The Times of India.
Thackeray launched Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamna in 1989 where he would target his political opponents and the immigrants to Maharashtra in the most vitriolic language. Shiv Sena joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and won the 1995 Maharashtra State Assembly elections and came to power. For more than four decades, Thackeray ran the Sena with an iron fist. He was a bit like the Godfather of a political party, revered by his supporters and feared by his critics.
For the Shiv Sena, the 1992-93 riots confirmed Thackeray's status as a charismatic larger than life figure. The Shiv Sena became a partner in power in Maharashtra for the first time in 1995. Typically, Thackeray chose to stay away from the chief minister's chair, preferring to be the autocratic remote control, an individual feared by Mumbai's rich and powerful.