Mumbai: ‘Owner of Mumbai’, Balasaheb Thackeray, has breathed his last on Saturday 3:30 PM here at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Bandra.
Various political personalities made a beeline to `Matoshree` to pay their last tribute to the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who had been critical for the last two weeks.
Senior party leaders and Bal Thackeray’s nephew Raj Thackeray, along with family members and other political leaders, rushed to ‘Matoshree’ following the veteran leader’s death.
"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.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cancelled the dinner for BJP leaders to be held today while condoling the death of Bal Thackeray. On behalf of the entire Congress party PM said, “Thackeray had a key role to play in politics.”
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.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has termed the divine soul as a ‘lion’ and also paid him homage by saying “terribly pained to hear lion is dead.”
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 1995-1999.
Senior BJP leader and spokesperson Shahnawaj Hussain termed the death as a major loss to Maharashtra.
Sanjay Raut, the Senior party worker of Shiv Sena and MP has urged to ‘Shiv sainiks’ to maintain calm and peace in Maharastra as the body of the late Shiv Sena chief will be kept for darshan at 7am tomorrow.
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.
Social activist turned politician, Arvind Kejriwal has also sent his heartfelt condolences to the family.
President Pranab Mukherjee has also condoled the death of Thackeray. 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.
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.
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".