1. Who Was Bal Thackeray?
Born on 23 January 1927, the birthday of Subhash Chandra Bose, the founder of Shiv Sena was a rebel since childhood. Educated till the sixth grade, Balasaheb Thackeray did not let the lack of education get in his way and used his command over languages, fiery oratory skills and his uncanny ability to read between the lines. He was never officially elected to power, but he held sway over Mumbai for over four decades as a journalist, cartoonist and Shiv Sena Chief.
He called himself the “remote control” of the Shiv Sena-BJP government that ruled Maharashtra between 1995-99, and for good reason. At one point, he was so influential that if Thackeray showed the slightest displeasure over something, the entire city downed its shutters in a self-imposed curfew.
Thackeray used to work as a cartoonist with Free Press Journal in the early days of his career. It didn’t help him make ends meet so he decided to start his own political satire weekly, Marmik, which culminated in the launch of Shiv Sena. He knew just how to provoke: He printed lists tauntingly titled “Read and Ignore” of recruitments done by industries and even government hospitals to prove that most of the jobs were given to non-Maharashtrian people.
He singlehandedly sparked the anxieties of Marathi people, (unemployment, poverty, territory, class) kindling support for his Sena. It is common knowledge that he thought of Adolf Hitler as an artist and ordered Hindu mobs to riot in 1992-93. Yet, when he died in November 2012, millions thronged the streets of Mumbai for his public funeral with complete state honours.
He is succeeded by his son Uddhav Thackeray, who was a photographer for the first forty years of his life. Aditya Thackeray, his grandson, recently entered politics and is currently earning his tiger stripes as the head of the Yuva Sena. Raj Thackeray, Uddhav’s cousin, left the party in 2006, upset that the supremo chose Uddhav over him to take over Shiv Sena.