Balasaheb Thackeray Passes Away: The Tiger To Roar No More!

The most spontaneous leader of Marathi manoos (people) fought for his people till the last moments of his life. Despite being engaged in a death defying struggle for days and months he never weakened away from the issues that concerned his people and his land. A series of most complicated medical problems that continuously eroded his body could not stop him from carrying on writing in his newspaper Saamna for his beloved Marathi people. His life has been of committed leadership, not of politics or political commitments. He never indulged in caste politics or vote bank politics as he said in an interview that only two castes existed for him—the rich and the poor. In his career of active leadership for over 45 years his party Shiv Sena ruled Maharashtra for only five years, but the Leader ruled the minds of Marathi people—always. The roaring Tiger of Maharashtra fell silent today.

Balasaheb Thackeray (1926-2012) passed away at his residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra locality of Mumbai today at around 3.30pm. The most painful declaration was officially made just after 5pm by his main doctor surrounded by emotional and weeping Shiv Sena leaders and workers. At the moment thousands of his supporters and followers and admirers are descending on Matoshree to share the grief and sorrow with the shattered Thackeray family. And tomorrow, hundreds of thousands are expected to come to pay their last respects at the historic Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai where his mortal remains will kept from 7am in the morning and the last rites will be performed there in the evening.

Here I must seek your permission to allow me to be a little personal, because it is very important to convey the feelings of a non-Marathi person living in Mumbai for many years about this unique cult personality who formed a political party too. While in Assam we had always been impressed by the heroes of Hindi cinema since our childhood days. We clapped for their bold dialogues, for their fights against the villains and for their straight forward honesty. We used to get emotional and inspired.

Coming to Mumbai on an official transfer I slowly took in the new environment and the new culture. Gradually I became familiar with what Balasaheb Thackeray spoke or commanded or did. And, I found all the heroes of Hindi cinema rolled into one whole of Balasaheb Thackeray. I had no doubts in my mind that this great leader who led from instincts, talked straight from the heart with brutal honesty and fearlessness had in fact inspired all the reel-life heroes. I also understood that some realities of Mumbai always got reflected in the movies made in this Indian film headquarters—be it a serious or a crass commercial movie.. I was thrilled to find a real life hero here and to discover for the first time in my life a political leader with such spontaneity. 

As the whole nation pays tributes to Bal Thackeray the politics part is almost thrown out of the window. Such spontaneity creates a mass leader independent of political affiliations, and therefore creates such unprecedented impact just at the thought of losing him. We had discussed this impact already in these pages. In a natural return act of spontaneity normal life in the city has closed down with deserted roads and shops and businesses downing the shutters. Mumbai now prepares for the mass upsurge expected tomorrow. No estimate seems to be practical enough at the moment.

We extend our condolences to the bereaved Thackeray family and the inconsolable Marathi people, not only in Maharashtra but the world over. We pray for the eternal bliss of the noble soul of this phenomenal mass leader.  


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