Personalities across the political spectrum and social sphere today condoled the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
“Maharashtra has lost a veteran, experienced leader....He was a politician, cartoonist, editor, organiser as well as art-lover and orator,” Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that Thackeray, as cartoonist, arrived on the scene like a storm after the collapse of communists in Mumbai, and took forward the legacy of his reformist father, `Prabodhankar’ Thackeray.
Shinde said he knew Thackeray for over four decades, and always felt he will survive the current bout of illness.
“He considered King Shivaji his idol. He worked for the people all his life. We took inspiration from him while governing in Maharashtra,” said BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who served as a PWD minister in the saffron alliance government in the state between 1995 and1999.
State PWD Minister Chhangan Bhujbal, a former Sena leader who later switched loyalties to the Congress and then NCP, said Thackeray created history by founding Shiv Sena and taking it to great heights politically.
“He was fearless while speaking...word ‘compromise’ never existed in his dictionary,” Bhujbal said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter and MP Supriya Sule said the Pawar family had very close relations with the Thackerays, though in the political arena the two rivals never spared each other.
“There were political differences for sure. But Pawar and Thackeray were the best of friends in the personal sphere. Thackeray helped a lot ahead of my marriage,” she reminisced.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said Thackeray was a strong patriot and a good cartoonist who carved an identity of his own in Maharashtra. “He had great affection towards me and was a guide for me,” Modi said, offering his condolences.
Singer Asha Bhosale said she had lots of memories and it was a “sad day” for her. Lata Mangeshkar said Maharashtra has been “orphaned” today.
Tamil superstar Rajnikant described Thackeray as a great personality, and said he has lost a “father figure“.
The 86-year-old cartoonist-turned-politician breathed his last at 3.30 p.m today at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Bandra.