Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray, who was critically ill for the past few days, passed away at his residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra today. He was 86.
"He had suffered a cardiac arrest. We could not revive him despite our best efforts. He breathed his last at around 3:30 PM," Dr Jalil Parkar, who treated the Sena supremo, told reporters after emerging from Thackeray residence this evening. Thackeray had been suffering from respiratory problems and pancreatic disease. He is survived by sons Jaidev and Uddhav.
Thackeray was being treated by doctors from Lilavati Hospital - Jaleel Parkar, Prakash Jindani and Samad Ansari - with assistance from Sena MLA Dr Deepak Sawant. His health had kept fluctuating over the last few days.
Thackeray, a maverick politician, roused emotions on Marathi pride and catapulted Shiv Sena to power in Maharashtra in the 1990s. He started out as a cartoonist alongside RK Laxman in the Free Press Journal in the 1950s and founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 on the plank of job security for the Marathi manoos (sons of the soil) which translated into attacks on South Indians whom he had blamed for taking away the opportunities from the locals.
In the 1980s, his politics expanded to include Hindutva identity and anti-Congressism. Always the kingmaker, Thackeray was largely instrumental in ending the Congress hegemony in Maharashtra. He never occupied any office.
On hearing the news of his death, a frenzied mob of Shiv sainiks tried to enter 'Matoshree' by raising slogans. Many of them in the crowd broke down on hearing the
news about their leader's death. Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony. Meanwhile, security has been stepped up in Mumbai. According to media reports, 20,000 police personnel have been deployed in the city.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have condoled the death of Thackeray. Singh cancelled a dinner for BJP leaders scheduled today ahead of Parliament session following Sushma Swaraj's request.
The body of the deceased leader would be kept for `darshan' at Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai tomorrow. Shivaji Park was the place where the very first rally of
Shiv Sena was held, and where Thackeray held his annual Dussehra rallies year after year. This year, however, he had not been able to attend the event because of ill-health.