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Bal Thackeray: A maverick leader

| Updated on: Nov 17, 2012
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Until the end, Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray remained a divisive public figure who was either praised sky-high by supporters or pilloried ceaselessly by his opponents.

According to senior political analyst Nagesh Kesari, Balasaheb was the only political cartoonist in modern India who not only conceived new political ideas but also put them into action. “He created a new party, (ensured that the Shiv Sena) formed a Government in 1995 and practised (a brand of) politics that was very unique. He managed all this with no family backing or a long political legacy,” he said.

Although a harsh critic of both the Congress and the Left parties, Balasaheb managed to forge deep bonds with Sharad Pawar and George Fernandes, politicians on either ends of the political spectrum. At the same time, he also ensured that his friendship was never taken for granted. By supporting Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee for presidentship, he sent a signal to ally BJP that certain choices went beyond coalition politics, Kesari said.

Eminent author Nilu Damle, who had interacted with Balasaheb on a number of occasions, said he was a complex person, but a leader who never practised caste-based politics. “He was a man beyond caste -based politics. His choice of candidates in elections was never caste based,” Damle said.

Damle added that Balasaheb was a leader who understood how the common man thought. His mass appeal was due to his common man’s response to any issue. It was the gut reaction of the common man, which he could gauge very well.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 17, 2017

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