Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had a special love and affection for Thane city, which gave his party a political fillip in the mid-1960s, when it had just been established.

He was extremely overwhelmed by the tremendous support given by Thane-ites by returning the Sena to power in 1967. It was only after capturing power in the Thane civic council that the Sena made inroads into other civic bodies such as Mumbai and Nashik.

At a rally after the Sena’s victory in the 1967 elections, the late Sena chief had declared that he was ensuring the construction of Dadaji Kondeo stadium and the Ram Ganesh Gadkari auditorium.

He minutely monitored happenings in Thane and any comment by its citizens in the form of letters to the editor or news reports. He took to task office bearers in the civic body and ensured that the civic works were completed.

He loved to come to Thane and during his visit for the last civic elections, he prostrated before the audience and begged them to return the Sena—BJP combine to power.

After the formation of the Thane Municipal Corporation, he handpicked its first directly elected president, Satish Chandra Pradhan, as its first mayor and told Thane-ites that he would go to any extent to satisfy their needs.

It became clear that Thackeray had meant what he said when Thane civic commissioner T. Chandrashekar was given a free hand to work for the city’s development, without entertaining complaints by his own partymen against the official.

Thackeray also ensured that the clock at Tembi Naka clock tower was repaired when Thane’s citizens had the privilege to communicate directly with him.

The late Shiv Sainik Anand Dighe was his blue-eyed boy and Thackeray achieved whatever he wanted in the city through Dighe.

When the Sena was in a fix over coming to power in Thane during the last civic elections, he expressed his wish that the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by his nephew Raj Thackeray should support the Shiv Sena — a wish which was fulfilled, bringing the Sena back to power.

(This article was published on November 18, 2012)
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