President, PM among many who condole Thackeray death
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the death of Bal Thackeray on Saturday.
Singh cancelled a dinner for BJP leaders scheduled tonight ahead of Parliament session following Sushma Swaraj's request. Senior BJP leaders are expected to attend Thakeray cremation on Sunday.
Interestingly, notwithstanding his strong anti-Congress stand, Thackeray extended his party's support to Pratibha Patil, also from Maharashtra, in the Presidential election in 2006 and later to Mukerjee in this year's election.
Despite the setback in his health in the last few days, Sena leaders and the party mouthpiece 'Saamna' kept maintaining that he was improving. Eminent personalities from politics, Bollywood and industry have been thronging his residence ever since.
Media persons and Sena workers stationed outside 'Matoshree' realised around 4 PM that there was some development as several senior leaders from Sena, BJP and other parties started arriving and police were seen to have become more alert.
As the speculation rose, Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Raut, Diwakar Raote accompanied by Dr Jalil Parkar, who had been treating Thackeray for the last three years, came out around 5 pm to announce Thackeray's demise.
On hearing the news, a frenzied mob of Shiv sainiks tried to enter 'Matoshree' by raising slogans "Bal Thackeray Amar Rahe' while police tried to prevent them from going inside and enhanced security allover. 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.
The relations between Shiv Sena and BJP in Maharashtra have not been too cordial in recent months. In fact, Thackeray has been pitching for Sushma Swaraj as the BJP’s nominee for PM in 2014. It is to be seen how the ties shape up ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. On Saturday, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari was quite generous in his tributes to the Sena chief. Political observers wonder if there will be a patch-up between Uddhav and raj Thackeray which could prove a powerful electoral combine.
- Asian Tribune -