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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saffron Loses Its Senapati:Bal Thackeray Called The Shots In Mumbai Like No One Has In Decades.

Jan 23, 1927- Nov 17, 2012

End Comes At 3.33pm After Long Ailment With His Brand Of Marathi Manoos-Hindutva-Rough & Ready Politics,  Both Feared And Loved, One Of India's Most Colourful, Charismatic & Controversial Leaders Leaves Behind A Divided Family And An Uncertain Legacy


Mumbai: Bal Keshav Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena and one of Maharashtra's most iconic and divisive figures, died on Saturday after weeks of ill-health. Thackeray, 85, was seriously ill since Wednesday when his blood pressure plunged and he lost consciousness. 
    "He suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest today. We could not revive him despite 

our best efforts. He breathed his last at 3.33 pm," said pulmonologist Dr Jalil Parkar, who was the Sena chief's doctor for the last five years and was by his bedside till the end. In his last days, Thackeray received round-the-clock attention from a battery of Mumbai's best doctors. 
    Thackeray's body, wrapped in saffron and with his trademark dark glasses on, has been kept in a glass casket in a hall on the second floor of 'Matoshree', his residence in Bandra. It will be taken at 7 am on Sunday to Shivaji Park, where legions of supporters are expected to pay their last respects between 10am and 
5pm. A large stage is being erected on the sprawling grounds under the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Party leaders announced that the final rites will be held at 6pm at the Shivaji Park crematorium. 
    Thackeray is survived by sons Jaidev and Uddhav, who is executive president of the party. News of his demise was followed by an appeal from Uddhav to restive cadres, requesting them to maintain calm. However, the city of Mumbai and its suburbs had already begun shutting down in anticipation of trouble. 
    The post-Thackeray phase marks a new era in Maharashtra's politics and heightens speculation about the strategies the Sena would need to adopt in the absence of its principal crowd-puller. For over four decades, Thackeray had dominated the stage, courting controversy with a blend of regional chauvinism and cultural aggression, and punctuating it with biting, if often crude, humour through editorials in his mouthpiece Saamna. On the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Thackeray famously said, "If Shiv Sainiks have done it, I am proud of them." 
Thackeray ran Sena govt on remote control 
    Thackeray was the eldest son of writer-crusader K S Thackeray, also known as Prabodhankar, for he edited a periodical called Prabodhan (Renaissance). Beginning his career as a cartoonist in the 1950s, he plunged into a nascent statehood movement for Maharashtra. 
    The Sena, which began as an outfit that fought to secure employment opportunities for Maharashtrians in the 1960s, gradually turned into a mainstream party that tasted power for the first time when it swept Mumbai's local body polls in 1985. The use and threat of mob violence became a calling card. There were even whispers about a culture of extortion taking root. 
    But it was Thackeray's sons-of-thesoil agenda that altered the state's political culture and eroded the Congress base. Using aggression to demand job 
quotas for the working class Mumbaikar Marathi, he built a loyal constituency and acquired near-mythical stature. 
    The Sena acquired prominence on the national stage when it embraced Hindutva and aligned with the BJP, eventually winning the Maharashtra assembly polls in the charged atmosphere of the mid-90s. Thackeray's stature grew when he spurned public office and installed Manohar Joshi as CM, although he made it known that he would be the one in charge running the gov
ernment on "remote control". From film-makers to businessmen, Thackeray's approval was considered a must. 
    His predilection for rough-andready methods showed in the manner in which his government dealt with the Mumbai underworld. During the Sena-BJP regime, nearly 100 gangsters were gunned down in 'encounters' that were described by then home minister Gopinath Munde as 'necessary' to tackle the deteriorating law and order situation. 
    However, cases for hate speech registered against him in the wake of the 1992 Mumbai riots continued to dog him. He escaped prosecution due to the reluctance shown by successive governments, including the ones headed by the Congress, to grant sanction. But he was banned in 1999 by the EC from voting or contesting in any election for six years for violating the code by seeking votes in the name of religion and caste in a bypoll in Mumbai in 1987. 

Leaders to attend funeral 
ujarat CM Narendra Modi, MP CM Shivraj Chauhan, BJP's LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley will be present for the funeral as will be NCP leader Sharad Pawar. They will be taken from Veer Sawarkar Marg, which will remain closed to traffic. TNN

FUTURE TENSE: Does Uddhav (52) have it in him to emerge out of his father's shadow and take centrestage? Or will 44-year-old cousin Raj (seen below at 'Matoshree' on Saturday evening) move into the driver's seat?


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