Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, one of the most admired figures in Maharashtra, would always be remembered for the brand of politics he practised. Thackeray championed Hindutva and formed the Shiv Sena to advocate for the interests of Maharashtrians in Mumbai's political and professional landscape.
On his 91st birth anniversary on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Balasaheb Thackeray and tweeted that the late Shiv Sena founder "worked tirelessly towards fulfilling the aspirations of people."
"Remembering Balasaheb Thackeray on his birth anniversary. He will always be remembered as a brave leader who worked tirelessly towards fulfilling the aspirations of people," Modi tweeted.
Bal Keshav Thackeray not only played the main role in mounding Maharashtrian politics but also had an impact on the national stage.
Thackeray began his professional career as a cartoonist with the English language daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, but left it in 1960 to form his own political weekly Marmik. His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, a leading figure in the Samyukta Maharashtra (United Maharashtra) movement
The success of Marmik, which came to be known for its campaign against the growing influence of non-Marathi people in Mumbai, prompted him to form the Shiv Sena on 19 June 1966. Initially, Thackeray said it was not a political party but an army of Shivaji. In alliance with the BJP, the party scaled new heights of success, when it clinched power in the 1999 Assembly elections in Maharashtra. Of the 288 Assembly seats, the 30-year old party won 73, while the BJP managed to get 65 seats. Though Thackeray had undoubtedly helped secure victory for the party with his strategies, he personally stayed out of the political limelight.
Thackeray died on November 17, 2012, due to a cardiac arrest. Mumbai came to a virtual halt immediately as the news broke out about his death, with shops and commercial establishments shutting down. Over a million people attended his funeral, that stretched over two kilometres - from his residence in Kalanagar to Shivaji Park in Dadar, where the party office is located. Not just the party followers but also popular personalities from Bollywood, politics and corporate world attended his last rites.