Balasaheb Thackeray Dead: End of an Era in Maharashtra Politics

The demise of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray spells the end of an era in Maharashtra politics. The state has lost a charismatic leader who built a party from scratch based on a unique understanding of the ordinary Marathi person's sense of resentment about being relegated to second-class citizenship in Mumbai. Over the past 40 years Shiv Sena has acquired a presence across Maharashtra but Mumbai remained Balasaheb's karmabhoomi


ShivSena leader Bal Thackeray passed away at 3.30 pm on Saturday after a cardio-respiratory arrest, his doctor Jaleel Parkar announced at Bandra, Mumbai. The Tiger, as he was known, breathed his last at the age of 86 after several months of illness. Rumours about Mr Thackeray’s imminent demise and critical health had led to a near complete shutdown of Mumbai on Thursday – some say out of fear and others claim it was a gesture of deep respect.  The city had barely hobbled back to normalcy by Friday.


ShivSena spokespersons announced that Balasaheb’s body would be kept at Shivaji Park from 7am on Sunday morning, for people to pay their last respects to their charismatic leader. Shivaji Park has a lot of significance for the ShivSena. It is the ground where Balasaheb gave his most rousing speeches; the park has a statue and memorial of his late wife Meenatai, it is a stone throw away from the ShivSena headquarters and his once-estranged nephew Raj Thackarey lives in a home overlooking the park. So in many ways, it seems fitting that Mr Thackarey’s last place of rest should be the iconic Shivaji Park at Dadar in Mumbai.


Bal Thackeray, born on January 23, 1926, is one of nine siblings and the son of Prabodhan Thackeray a social reformer. He started his career as a cartoonist with the Free Press Journal, where he was a friend and colleague of the famous R K Laxman. He formed the ShivSena in 1966 and struck an immediate chord with Marathi people with his unique brand of oratory, his connect with the ordinary people and his championing of the “sons of the soil” issue.

Interestingly, while the party has sometimes been accused of encouraging lumpen politics, one of Balasaheb Thackeray’s strengths has always been his keen media sense and ability to communicate. His magazine Marmik and later the party newspaper Samna carried thundering editorials and occasional cartoons by the maverick leader for decades. Also, Shiv Sena shakas made it a point to encourage newspaper reading by making them available free. The shakha network (branches) helped him build a statewide cadre of leaders and followers who swore unwavering loyalty to Balasaheb.


Balasaheb attracted a fair degree of criticism for promoting parochial politics and repeatedly shutting Mumbai down with the threat of violence. Yet, even his worst critics would admit that Mr Thackeray’s powerful hold over a large swathe of the people of Maharashtra. Sometime in the late 1980s, the Sena began to eye a more national role and adopted a hardline Hindu ideology. However, the party was never able to establish a presence outside Maharashtra and managed to control the Maharashtra assembly only once (between 1995-99), that too in collaboration with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


In recent years, the leader was apparently pained by nephew Raj Thackarey’s decision to form the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in 2006. But he chose to support his less charismatic son Uddhav Thackarey. In recent months, there are indicators that a rapprochement of sorts may be in the air, but there is little doubt that the senior Thackarey’s exit will lead to a power-tussle for the Tiger’s mantle.



Liquor baron Ponty Chadha, brother killed in crossfire

Both Ponty and his brother Harvinder were not on good terms and there were disagreement between them over land ownership

New Delhi: Controversial liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother were killed in a shootout in the former's farmhouse in south Delhi on Saturday, reports PTI.


The incident took place in Ponty Chadha's farmhouse in Chattarpur around noon. Ponty's brother Harvinder also died in the shootout.


Both the brothers were not on good terms and there were disagreement between them over land ownership.


Though police sources initially said both the brothers shot at each other, they later said that Harvinder opened fire at Ponty. Then Ponty's guards opened fire at Harvinder.


This is the second incident of firing at Ponty Chadha's residence. On October five, firing took place at his ancestral home in Moradabad.


Election Commission to probe charges against Rahul Gandhi

Dr Subramanian Swamy had alleged that Rahul Gandhi did not show shares owned by him in Associated Journals which ran the now-defunct National Herald newspaper in the affidavit he filed during Lok Sabha elections in 2009

New Delhi: The Election Commission has asked the Returning Officer of Amethi Lok Sabha constituency to probe allegations by Subramanian Swamy that Rahul Gandhi gave "wrong information" regarding his assets while filing nomination papers in the 2009 polls, reports PTI.
In a letter to Chief Electoral Officer on 15th November, the Commission said Swamy has alleged that Gandhi had given "wrong information" relating to his assets and cited a June 2004 letter which said the Returning Officer is the competent authority to look into such complaints.
"Since the affidavit is filed before the Returning Officer, in view of the provisions of Section 195 of CrPC, it is the Returning Officer concerned, who is the competent authority to consider any complaint regarding false statement in the affidavit...," the EC letter said.
The letter written by Principal Secretary RK Srivastava also said if the Returning Officer is satisfied that the affidavit contained false statement, he can take appropriate follow up action.
The Commission directed the CEO to forward Swamy's complaint to the Returning Officer for appropriate action. "The Commission may be kept informed of the action taken in the matter," the letter said.
Swamy had earlier this month alleged that Gandhi did not show shares owned by him in Associated Journals which ran the now-defunct National Herald newspaper in the affidavit he filed during Lok Sabha elections in 2009.


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