The writer, either blinded by his devotion or too lily-livered to be honest, presents a biased, hagiographic view of the man, who, in my opinion and in the opinion of the majority of level-headed Indians, single-handedly destroyed the secular character of the city I loved and This is the worst sort of biography. The writer, either blinded by his devotion or too lily-livered to be honest, presents a biased, hagiographic view of the man, who, in my opinion and in the opinion of the majority of level-headed Indians, single-handedly destroyed the secular character of the city I loved and the country I admired. As is the fact that Bombay Presidency was a seperate entitity, which always had a cosmopoitan character, settled by early Eurpoean and Indian traders. It was later cliamed by both Gujarat and Maharashtra as both had a defendable right to it.
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How did he make the shift from an aggressive Maharashtrianism t strident Hindutva to become one of the major players in Indian Politicas? How did he and his shiv sena establish sway over the muli-crore film industry and, with its longstanding alliance with the BJP, become a subject of intense curiosity all over India and even in Pakistan?
This book tells the complete story of Bal Thackeray and the rise, fall and split of the shiv sena. A must —read for and understanding of contemporary Indian politics and the rise of the Hindu national phenomenon. About the Author Vaibhav Purandare grew up in Mumbai in the s and 90s, the tumultuous decades in which Bal Thackeray and his shiv sena went from being regional political players to champions of a militant Hindutva that carried their rhetoric and rage across India.
His first book, The sena story was published in , when he was only twenty-three. This was part of their annual ritual, the coming-together of party faithfuls for the annual address by their Senapati or chief. Thackeray had addressed his first Dussehra rally in , the year in which the Shiv Sena was established, and had since held forth from the dais on this very ground every Dussehra, for 45 consecutive years, each time attracting a crowd of at least one lakh, a record of sorts.
He had been ailing for a while and had just recently spent nine days in hospital for a gastro-intestinal ailment. Nevertheless, the Sainiks hoped he would come. He did not. The mood of the gathering turned sombre. They knew Balasaheb had been unwell, but this time, he looked utterly exhausted and even breathless.
He admitted as much. When the Shiv Sainiks quietly filed out of the park after his minute talk, the overwhelming emotion was not about his politics but his health. Bal Thackeray had always been the picture of defiance: he was always thin but never reticent, he had breathed fire even in his 70s and 80s, urging his men to violent upheavals all the time.
And he abhorred showing any signs of weakness. Now seeing him so frail and helpless moved many of them to tears. The Sena was built too closely around the personality of Bal Thackeray. What would it be without him, they wondered, even as they realised that evening that he was ready to hang up his boots. End of an era On 17 November at pm, just as this book was going to press, news broke that Bal Keshav Thackeray, the founder of the Shiv Sena and one of the most controversial and charismatic figures of Indian politics, had died of cardio-respiratory arrest.
He had been suffering for months from ailments of the lungs and the pancreas. It was the end of an era in Maharashtra politics. The turnout at his funeral was one of the largest seen in post-Independence India. The size of the crowd demonstrated just how big an imprint Thackeray left upon the state and the copy.
In death, he turned out to be an even bigger crowd-puller. The procession stretched out for more than 2 km and many more people had lined up on the streets and on balconies along the route. Most Indian television channels focused almost exclusively on Bal Thackeray ever since the announcement of his death had been made, with many anchors airing their old interviews with him even though they had been among his strongest critics.
Estimates of the crowd ranged from five lakh to a million, and Thackeray, in keeping with his reputation, brought the whole of Mumbai to a halt. But: there was none of the violence and disruption usually associated with the Shiv Sena. Apart from followers of the Sena, the mourners included thousands of ordinary citizens of Mumbai. A quiet and controlled sense of grief hung over the metropolis. When the procession reached Mahim dargah, 2 km from Matoshree, Muslim religious leaders offered a garlanded chaddar over the casket as a mark of respect; and there was a shower of flowers at four points on the route.
At the packed Shivaji Park, when police band struck up a tribute and a gun salute, there was complete silence. Sankaranarayanan State Home Minister R. Industrial magnate Anil Ambani also attended the cremation.
Bollywood did its bit. The previous evening, Bachchan had tweeted with feeling about how Balasaheb had been a close friend and had supported him all through his career, coming to his rescue not only by dispatching a Sena ambulance to Mumbai airport after he was injured on the sets of Coolie in , but also by backing him during the Bofors controversy. Bachchan, who had rushed to visit Thackeray at his Matoshree residence when his condition turned critical on 14 November, also wrote about how, when he had visited the Thackeray home after his wedding to Jaya Bachchan, the Sena leader and his wife Meena-tai had welcomed her in exactly the way any daughter-in-law would be welcomed into a traditional Maharashtrian home.
No one can equal what he has done for Maharashtra. We needed him to be with us for many more years. They had learnt that people would be allowed to pay their last respects to the departed leader at the maidan, and had come in very early. Talk around the maidan was of how Mumbai had seldom seen anything like this before. Separated by politics, grief had brought them together. He is said to have then watched the rest of the funeral procession on television at his home, situated next to Shivaji Park, before turning up for the cremation in the evening.
Bal Thackeray had never held any official position. And yet, he was honoured with a ceremonial state funeral. Two days before his death, rumours about his deteriorating condition had spread like wildfire. Mumbai had been on tenterhooks and had virtually shut down.
Thousands of Shiv Sainiks had rushed to Matoshree to find out how he was, forcing the government to increase security and even call in the riot control police. And yet, there was no medical bulletin. Even the state government seemed to be in the dark. At the funeral, the Sainiks recalled the agony of that week when they had no reliable information, and wondered whether anyone had considered how distressed they were by the uncertainty. Just a day after the funeral and the remarkable composure displayed by them, some Sainiks seemingly returned to their old selves.
In Palghar, 87 km from Mumbai, two girls were arrested. Their crime? Their arrest was promptly followed by the Sainiks vandalizing a clinic belonging to an uncle of one of the girls. The social media erupted with outrage. Even as this controversy raged, another one arose over the demand made by the Shiv Sena to build a memorial for Bal Thackeray at the cremation spot. The Bombay High Court had to decide on whether the Park was a recreation ground or a public playground, for it is only on the latter that constructions are allowed.
To lakhs of Shiv Sainiks, all of this only served to reinforce the image of the departed leader. In life, he had been their hero. In their grief-stricken eyes, death lent Thackeray a near-mythical stature.
Bal Thackeray & The Rise of The Shiv Sena