"Balasaheb is a straightforward leader... He always fought for Hindutva," Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' quoted Modi as saying.
"A personality like his comes once in a century," Modi said, on the occasion of Thackeray turning 86 today. "He gave all in the national interest and ruled people's hearts," the CM said.
The Sena chief's birthday was celebrated with enthusiasm with thousands of activists across the state visiting his residence Matoshri in suburban Bandra.
A 'rudrakshtula' of Thackeray was performed by the Nepali Shramik Mazdoor Union. The 'rudraksh' were later given to those gathered. At the Juhu beach, sculptor Lakshmi Kamble made a sand portrait of the Sena patriarch, drawing a throng of admirers.
In a message to supporters, Thackeray said he would not be able to meet them like he did in the past. "Then, meeting you was my tonic. It still is. However, I don't have the same strength I had earlier," he said.
Talking to reporters at Matoshri, Thackeray replied to queries on his praise by Modi. "How do I know why he praised me? Ask him, why he praised me," he said. "Or is it a paid news like there is paid news in media," he quipped.
Reacting to remarks by estranged nepwhew, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, that Sena had lost people's support, the Sena chief said, "does he (Raj) have a machine to monitor people's minds?"
Meanwhile, in an editorial in 'Saamana', Thackeray flayed party's Lok Sabha member from Kalyan, Anand Paranjpe, who has all but joined NCP. "There is no place in history for traitors," he said.