Pictures From Bal Thackeray’s Funeral Cremation
(Left to Right) UdhavThackeray, Raj Thackeray, Jaidev Thackeray (Uddhav’s elder brother) and Aditya Thakre in front of Bal Thackeray’s Funeral Pyre at Shivaji Park.
- Balasaheb Thackeray died at 3.30 pm on 17 November, 2012, of a cardiac arrest. This article discusses the main events from his life, his legacy, why he was famous and what he will be remembered for.
- Large crowds of Mumbai’s residents and Shiv Sena supporters accompanied Bal Thackeray’s dead body from his residence, “Matoshri“, to Shiv Sena Bhavan. From Sena Bhavan Balasahab Thackeray’s body was taken to the statue of his wife Mina Thackeray at Shivaji Park. Shiv Sena “Shakha Pramukhs” (Branch Leaders) accompanied the special truck.
- Bal Thackeray’s youngest son Uddhav performed the last rites as per Hindu custom. Usually, as per Hindu tradition, the eldest surviving son lights the funeral pyre. As per tradition, Balasaheb’s estranged elder son, Jaidev Thackeray, should have performed his last rites.
- Jaidev Thackeray was standing alongside younger brother Uddhav when he lit Bal Thackeray’s funeral pyre. Bal Thackeray’s eldest son, “Bindumadhav”, had died in a road accident on 20 April 1996. Bindumadhav Thackeray’s Tata Sumo met with an accident at “Waksai Phata” on the old Bombay – Pune NH4 highway. One of the achievements for which Balasahab will be remembered is the new Mumbai – Poona Expressway.
- Cousins Udhav and Raj Thackeray and their families came together for Bal Thackeray’s funeral. Raj Thackeray’s wife (Shalini), son (Amit), daughter (Urvashi), accompanied Uddhav, his wife (Rashmi), sons (Aditya, Tejas), on the truck that took Balasaheb’s body to Shivaji Park. Raj Thackeray walked with the crowd behind his uncle’s body.
- Politicians from all parties (Sushma Swaraj, Sharad Pawar, L K Adwani, S S Chouhan, DY Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Arun Jaitley, Praful Patel, etc), industrialist (Anil Ambani), actors (Amitabh Bachchan, Nana Patekar, Ritish Deshmukh, etc) paid their last respects at Shivaji Park.
- This was an official state funeral. Mumbai Police gave a 21 gun salute before Thackeray’s was cremated.
- Bal Thackeray had been suffering from respiratory and pancreatic illness. On 15 November, 2012, he was in critical shape and the doctors had given up hope. Meena Thackeray, Balasaheb’s wife too had died of an heart attack.
Bal Thackeray’s Biography and Chronology of Events in His Life
- 1926: Bal Keshav Thackeray was born on 23 January 1926 in Pune in a lower middle class family. His father, Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, was an editor, writer, social reformer and social cum political activist. The Thackrey’s belong to the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) caste.
- 1926: Bal Thackeray’s family name was “Thakre”. His father, being a fan of India born writer of “Vanity Fair”, William Thackeray, anglicized “Thakre” to “Thackeray”.
- 1930: Birth of Bal Thackeray’s younger brother, Shrikant Thackeray.
- 1956: Keshav Thackeray was a founding member of “Sanyukta Maharashtra Samiti” which fought for the creation of a separate Marathi speaking state. The state of Maharashtra was established on 1 May, 1960.
- Mid 1950s: Bal Thackray started his career as a cartoonist with the Mumbai English daily “The Free Press Journal”. In the 1955 Guru Dutt movie “Mr & Mrs 55”, Bal Thackeray drew the cartoon for the Guru Dutt’s character, who is a struggling cartoonist.
- 1960: Bal Thackeray and his brother, Srikant Thackeray, started the Marathi political weekly journal “Marmik”. In Marmik, he advocated an anti Gujarati, anti South Indian and anti Marwari sentiments.
- 1966: On 19 June, 1966, Bal Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena with the initial agenda of propagating the cause of the ordinary Marathi person in Bombay and Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena sought preferential treatment for the Marathi “Manoos” (man) whom they considered the “Son of the Soil”. “Shiv Sena” means the army of Lord Shiva.
- 1984: Shiv Sena forms a political alliance with BJP.
- 1985: The Shiv-Sena BJP alliance won the Bombay BMC elections. They have maintained their grip on Mumbai and have continued to be in power ever since.
- Mid 1980s: Bal Thackeray tried to expand his political base by adopting a “Hindutva” (Hindu nationalism) agenda, instead of an anti-migrant agenda. Later he went back to his old ways by attacking North Indian migrants in Mumbai.
- Mid 1990s: Bal Thacray underwent an Open Heart Bypass surgery at Hinduja Hospital. He also suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is a respiratory illness where the flow of air in the lungs is restricted because air passages in the lungs become narrow.
- 1995: Shiv Sena and BJP won the state elections in Maharashtra. Non-Congress government in Maharashtra for the first time. Bal Thackeray’s second son, Jaidev Thackeray, parted ways with his father due to ideological differences.
- 1996: On 20 April, 1996, Bal Thackeray’s eldest son, Bindumadhav Thackeray, died in a car accident near “Waksai Phata” on the old NH4 Mumbai to Pune highway. In September 1996, Bal Thackeray’s wife, Meena died of a heart attack.
- 1998: In 1993 Justice B.N. Srikrishna was assigned the task of examining the causes of the 1992-93 Bombay communal riots. The Justice Srikrishna Commission Report was critical of Bal Thackeray and the Shiv Sena for whipping up communal frenzy, especially during the second phase of the riots from January 6, 1993.
- 1999: India’s Election Commision banned Bal Thackeray from either contesting or voting in Indian elections for six years from December 11, 1999 to December 10, 2005. He was banned for seeking votes in the name of religion.
- 2003: In 2003, Bal Thackeary’s younger brother, Shrikant Thackeray, died at the age of 70 due to complications related to diabetics. Shrikant Thackeray was multi-talented. He was a journalist, cartoonist, film critic, music director, gazhal singer.
- 2004: Bal Thackeray’s youngest son, Uddhav Thackeray, takes over the role of Executive President of the Shiv Sena. Udhav is a photographer and wildlife enthusiast.
- 2006: Bal Thackeray’s nephew, Swararaj (Raj) Thackeray, quits the Shiv Sena due to the rising clout of cousin Uddhav. On 9 March, 2006, Raj Thackeray started the “Maharashtra Navnirman Sena” (MNS), a political party similar to the Shiv Sena with a pro-Marathi agenda.
- 2009: Bal Thackeray undergoes an angioplasty.
- May 2012: Hospitalized at Lilavati Hospital.
- Nov 2012: Hospitalized because of difficulty in breathing, severe constipation and inflammation. On 15 November, doctors had given up hope.
- 17 Nov 2012: Bal Thackeray dies of a heart attack at 3:30 pm. Mumbai city comes to a stand still. Shiv Sainiks force closure of business establishments in Mumbai.
The Good, Bad, Ugly Legacy Of Bal Thackeray
1] Bal Thackeray – “Good”, Positive Work and Legacy
- Bal Thackeray will be remembered for being a champion of the common Marathi “Manoos” (person). Maharashtrians, especially from the lower strata of society felt that he was a leader who spoke for their rights.
- Bal Thackeray will also be remembered for propagating the ideals and legacy of Chattrapatti Shivaji Maharaj.
- Shiv Sena and its political alliance partner, BJP, won elections in Maharashtra in 1995. This was the first time a non-Congress government was formed in Maharashtra. Even though he was not the Chief Minister or in the Maharashtra cabinet, Bal Thackeray proudly claimed he held the “Remote Control” of the Shiv Sena – BJP government. The government’s tenure will be remembered for the excellent Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the many road bridges built in Mumbai.
- Bal Thackeray managed to make his party, Shiv Sena, a major political force in Maharashtra.
- Bal Thackeray will be remembered as a fine cartoonist.
2] Bal Thackeray – “Bad”, Negative Work and Legacy
- In the last century Bombay was a multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan, modern, liberal city. With his brand of pro-Hindu, pro-Marathi ideals which was reinforced with threats and violence, he changed the basic character of the city in a negative way. He converted Bombay into Mumbai and not just in name alone.
- With liberalization in 1991, India’s economy soared. Being the economic capital of India, Bombay could have really taken off and become an important global city. Today, despite the fact that the Shiv Sena is in power in Bombay for the last 17 years, Mumbai’s infrastructure is in poor shape. Bal Thackeray lacked long term vision both for Mumbai and for Maharashtra.
- Bal Thackeray’s party, Shiv Sena, has often used violence to ban or disrupt events, movies, books, artist, etc which it and its leader did not approve of.
- Bal Thackeray was an admirer of Adolf Hitler. In running Mumbai and his party, he used many of the fascist principles and tactics of Hitler, such as threat and use of violence, especially against weak opponents (writers, artists, actors, film industry, small builders, minorities, etc), taking up xenophobic causes (anti migrants from South, West, North and East India), strong hatred against minorities (Muslims), use of strong visuals (Shiv Sena tiger), etc.
- To prove their pro-national credentials, Balsaheb Thackeray “banned” all India-Pakistan cricket matches to be held in Mumbai and Maharashtra. In 1991, Shiv Sainiks had dug up the Wankhede stadium cricket pitch before a Pakistan India cricket match. The Shiv Sena tried to get the BCCI to stop Pakistan from playing anywhere in India, but their influence outside Maharashtra is negligible. The Shiv Sena once tried to forcibly ban Shahrukh Khan’s film, “My Name Is Khan”, because he suggested that Pakistani cricketers should be allowed to play in India. The Indian public ignored Bal Thackeray and the movie was a big hit.
- The Shiv Sena’s aversion for Pakistanis goes beyond cricket and also applies to artists from Pakistan.
3] Balasaheb Thackeray – “Ugly” Legacy
- Bal Thackeray’s legacy will be of a man who was xenophobic towards fellow Indians who were not Marathi or Maharashtrians.
- In the 1960s Bal Thackeray was anti South Indians. He advised his supporters to stop going to Udipi restaurants and his supporters attached Bombay residents from South India.
- The 1960s also saw Bal Thackeray advocating an anti Gujarati and anti Marwari stance. Bal Thackeray was also anti communist.
- In the 2000s, Bal Thackeray found a new target for his hatred – poor migrants in Mumbai from Utter Pradesh and Bihar. Bal Thackeray’s nephew, Raj Thackeray has been trying to establish himself politically in the image of his uncle by taking an even more radical anti North Indian stance.
- Bal Thackeray held and preached anti-Muslims views. After the “Babri Masjid” demolition on 6 December, 1992, Bombay experienced Hindu-Muslim riots in December 1992 and early January, 1993. The Srikrishna Commission set up to investigate these riots, laid major part of the blame for the 1992-1993 Bombay Riots on Bal Thackeray and on his party the Shiv Sena and his paper “Samaana”.
- In 2002, Bal Thackeray advocated the formation of Hindu death squads to counter Muslim violence.
Bal Thackeray and Shiv Sena’s Relationship With The Hindi Movie Industry
Mumbai’s Hindi movie industry had a relationship of fear with Bal Thackeray and his Shiv Sena. Shiv Sainiks have been unleashed to disrupt movie screenings. For example, Mani Ratnam had to show his film “Bombay” to Bal Thackeray, who suggested cuts; Deepa Mehta’s “Water” was disrupted by Shiv Sainik’s because of its Lesbian theme, Ram Gopal Verma had to show a special screening and get approval for “Sarkar” since the lead character was similar to Bal Thackeray, etc.
Until recently, Mumbai’s Hindi film industry had been largely unorganized with no large corporate houses in the movie business. Exploiting this, the Shiv Sena was able to control film content that they did not like. Fearing disruptions, Bollywood film makers and actors would bend backwards to please the Shiv Sena and its leader, Bal Thackeray.
In January 2010, actor Shahrukh Khan, who owns the IPL team Kolkatta Knight Riders, remarked that Pakistani cricketer’s should be allowed to play in the IPL. This remark so enraged the Shiv Sena that they decided to use force to prevent the screening of his movie “My Name Is Khan” unless Sharukh Khan apologized. Shahrukh Khan displayed guts and refused to back down and be bullied. His action called the bluff of the Shiv Sena and the protest fizzled out. Shahrukh and Karan Johar’s movie was a big hit.