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    Bal Thackeray
    Founder and chief of the Shiv Sena
    Personal details
    Born 23 January 1926 (1926-01-23) (age 85)[1]
    Poona, Bombay Presidency, British India[2]
    Political party Shiv Sena
    Spouse(s) Mina Thackeray
    Children Bindumadhav Thackeray
    Jaidev Thackeray
    Uddhav Thackeray
    Residence Mumbai, India
    Religion Hindu
    As of May 4, 2008

    Bal Keshav Thackeray[1] (Marathi: बाळ केशव ठाकरे; pronounced /ʈhakəɾe/) (born 23 January 1926[1]), popularly known as Balasaheb Thackeray, is an Indian politician, founder and chiefof the Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, and Marathi ethnocentricparty active mainly in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

    Born in Poona, Thackeray began his professional career as a cartoonistwith the English language daily the Free Press Journal in Bombay, but left it in 1960 to form his own political weekly Marmik. His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, a leading figure in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement(United Maharashtra movement), which advocated the creation of a separate linguistic state of Maharashtra. Through Marmik, he campaigned against the growing influence of Gujaratis, Marwaris, and migrants from South India in Bombay.[1]In 1966, Thackeray formed the Shiv Senaparty to advocate more strongly the place of Maharashtriansin Bombay’s political and professional landscape. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Thackeray built the party by forming temporary alliances with nearly all of Maharashtra’s political parties.[3]

    A controversial figure, Thackeray has attracted significant attention by making statements expressing admiration for Hitler, inciting violence against Muslims, expressing support for the LTTE, and taking strong stances on the aspects of popular culture, including fervent opposition to the celebration of Valentine’s Day.[3]


    [edit] Early life and career

    Bal Thackeray was born to Keshav Sitaram Thackeray (also known as Prabodhankar Thackeray because of his articles in his fortnightly magazine named Prabodhan or ‘Enlightenment’) in a lower-middle class, Marathi family. Keshav Thackeray was a progressive social activist and writer who was against caste biasesand played a key role in the Samyukta Maharashtra Chalwal (literally, United Maharashtra Movement) in the 1950s to form the Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra with Mumbaias its capital. Shiv sainiks called them ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ with love(Emperor of Hindu’s heart)

    Bal Thackeray started his career as a cartoonistin the Free Press Journal in Bombay.[4]His cartoons were also published in the Sunday edition of The Times of India. In 1960, he launched a cartoon weekly Marmikwith his brother.[4]He used it to campaign against the growing numbers of and influence of non-Marathi people in Bombay targeting Gujaratis and South Indian labor workers.[4]

    He formed the Shiv Senaon 19 June 1966 with the intent of fighting for the rights of the natives of the state of Maharashtra (called Maharashtrians).[5] The early objective of the Shiv Sena was to ensure job security for Maharashtrians competing against immigrants from southern India, Gujaratis and Marwaris.[6]

    In 1989, the Sena’s newspaper Saamna was launched.[7]

    Politically, the Sena was anti-communist, and wrested control of major trade unions in Mumbai from the Communist Party of India and demanded protection money(extortion) from mainly Gujarati and marwari business leaders. It later allied itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) over the common issue of Hindu Nationalismwhich both parties believed in. The BJP-Shiv Sena combine won the 1995 Maharashtra State Assemblyelections and came to power. During the tenure of the government from 1995 to 1999, Thackeray was nicknamed ‘remote control‘ since he played a major role in government policies and decisions from behind the scenes.

    On July 28, 1999 Bal Thackeray was banned from voting and contesting in any election for six years from December 11, 1999 till December 10,2005 on the recommendations of the Election Commission.[8]After the six-year voting ban on Bal Thackeray was lifted in 2005, he voted for the first time in the 2006 BMC elections.[9]

    Thackeray has claimed that the Shiv Sena has helped the Marathi manoos(the Marathi commoner) in Mumbai and also fought for the rights of Hindu people,Thackeray is a staunch Hindu and believes that Hindus must be organised to struggle against those who oppose their identity and religion.[10]especially in the public sector.[11]Opposition leftist parties allege that the Shiv Sena has done little to solve the problem of unemployment facing a large proportion of Maharashtrian youth during its tenure, in contradiction to its ideological foundation of ‘sons of the soil.’[12]

    [edit] Controversies

    Thackeray is very vocal in his controversial opposition to people who migrate to Mumbai, to non-Hindus (especially Muslims), and to illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. In the late 1960s to mid-1970s, as part of his ‘Maharashtra is for Maharashtrians’ campaign, Thackeray threatened migrants from South Indiawith harm unless they left Mumbai.

    In the 1960s he called South Indians Lungiwaale and Yanda Gandu and had slogans like Lungi Hatao Pungi bajao.[13]

    In 2002, Thackeray issued a call to form Hindu suicide squads to counter alleged Muslim violence:

    If such suicide squads are formed only then can we take on perpetrators of mindless violence.[14]

    In reaction to Thackeray’s call, Maharashtra government registered a case against him for inciting enmity between different groups.[15]

    Asia Times further reported on Thackeray’s rhetoric:

    ‘to take the Muslims head on’. ‘Trouble-making Muslims should be wiped out from the country… kick out the four crore [40 million] Bangladeshi Muslims and then the country will be secure’, the Shiv Sena leader said. Urging Hindus to start calling India ‘Hindu rashtra’ (Hindu nation), he maintained that only ‘our religion Hinduismis to be honored here’ and then ‘we will look after other religions’.[16]

    At least two organizations founded and managed by the retired Indian Army officers namely Lt Col (retired) Jayant Rao Chitale and Lt Ge. P.N. Hoon (former commander-in-chief of the Western Command), answered Bal Thackeray’s call to set up the suicide squads in India. Lt Gen. Hoon claimed, Thackeray instructed him to set up the training camps through his writings and inflammatory articles.[17]

    Thackeray continues to publish inflammatory editorials in his party’s newsletter, Saamana (Confrontation).

    On 11 November 2009, Thackeray published an editorial in Saamana which criticised a statement made by Sachin Tendulkar in an interview where he said ‘Mumbai belongs to India… I am a Maharashtrian and am extremely proud of that, but I am an Indian first’.[18] [19][20][21]

    In February 2010, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan‘s film My Name Is Khanwas opposed by Bal Thackeray and his party members for the former’s remarks supporting cultural interaction between Indians and Pakistanis to help build friendly relations between the two nations. This especially created a furore since it was unofficially decided by most people in India to not allow Pakistanis to work in India due to the ramprant terror attacks carried out on Indian Soil by militants sponsored by Pakistani elements.[22][23]

    [edit] Views on Muslims

    Thackeray’s views have typically been highly anti-Muslim. He is usually attacking them and occasionally sympathizing with them. He has declared that he is ‘not against every Muslim, but only those who reside in this country but do not obey the laws of the land…. I consider such people traitors.’[24] His party is viewed as being anti-Muslim, though Shiv Sainiks officially reject this accusation.[25] When explaining his views on Hindutva, he has conflated Islam with violence and has called for Hindus to ‘fight terrorism and fight Islam’.[26]In an interview in Suketu Mehta’s book ‘Maximum City’, he advocates the hanging of Indian Muslims who indulge in terrorism and mass expulsion of Bangladeshi Muslim migrants from India.

    In the 1980s he had stated that:

    ‘”They [Muslims] are spreading like a cancer and should be operated on like a cancer. The… country should be saved from the Muslims and the police should support them [Hindu Maha Sangh] in their struggle just like the police in Punjab were sympathetic to the Khalistanis.’[27]

    Balasaheb Thackeray criticized and challenged Indian Muslims through his party newspaper, Sāmna, around the time the 16th century Babri Masjidwas demolished by members of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janta Party(BJP) in the northern town of Ayodhya, on December 6, 1992. Hindus believe that the Babri Mosque was built on the demolished ruins of a Hindu temple in the 16th century, and consider it to be the Ram Janmabhoomi(birthplace of the Hindu God Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, one of the Trimurtiof the Hindu Pantheon). The communal riots that followed the demolition of the mosque led to nearly a 1000 deaths and many enquiry committees constituted by the government have accused Shiv Sena and Thackeray of being involved in and coordinating the riots. Thackeray however has shown no regret and feels that he is proud of what he and his partymen did back in those days because he feels that if it was not for the Shiv Sena then no one would have been able to control the Muslims after the demolition of the mosque.

    However, in an interview in 1998, he claims to have tempered his stance on many issues that the Shiv Sena had with Muslims, particularly regarding the Babri Mosque or Ram Janmabhoomi issue,[28] saying:

    ‘We must look after the Muslims and treat them as part of us.’[28]

    He has since made more inflammatory statements regarding Muslims, and reiterated his desire for Hindus to unite across linguistic barriers and to see ‘a Hindustan for Hindus’ and to ‘bring Islam in this country down to its knees’.[29]

    However, he has also expressed admiration for Muslims in Mumbai in the wake of the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists. In response to threats made by the leader of the Samajwadi Partythat accusations of terrorism directed at Indian Muslims would bring about communal strife, Thackeray said that the unity of Mumbaikars (residents of Mumbai) in the wake of the terrorist attacks was ‘a slap to fanatics of Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi’ and that Thackeray ‘salute(s) those Muslims who participated in the two minutes’ silence on July 18 to mourn the blast victims’.[30]

    In 2008, Thackeray wrote ‘Islamic terrorism is growing and Hindu terrorism is the only way to counter it. We need suicide bomb squads to protect India and Hindus’.[31]

    [edit] Views on people from Uttar Pradesh & Bihar

    On March 6, 2008, Bal Thackeray issued an editorial titled Ek Bihari, Sau Bimari[32] (One Bihari, Hundred maladies)[33] in Saamna, Shiv Sena’s political mouthpiece, saying Biharis were ‘an unwanted lot’ in the Maharashtra. In what was termed as an apparent bid to recapture his party’s Marathi sons of soil plank, which was being hijacked by the MNS leader Raj Thackeray, Bal Thackeray wrote about Biharis,[34]

    They [Biharis] are not wanted in southern India, Assam and also Punjab and Chandigarh. The Biharis have antagonised local population wherever they had settled. The UP-Bihari MPs have shown their ingratitude towards Mumbai and Maharashtra with an anti-Marathi tirade in Parliament.’[34]

    He also denounced Bihari MPs, saying they were ‘spitting in the same plate from which they ate’ by criticising Mumbaikars and Maharashtrians. He also wrote, ‘They are trying to add fuel to the fire that has been extinguished, by saying that Mumbaikars have rotten brains’. Additionally, he criticized a major holiday celebrated by people from Bihar, and eastern UP which happens six days after the Hindu New Year (Diwali) known as Chath Pooja. He said that it wasn’t a real holiday.[35] The outburst was apparently in response to MPs from Bihar who had disrupted the proceedings of the Lok Sabhain protest against the attacks on North Indians.[35]

    Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, upset with the remarks, demanded that the Prime Minister and the Centre intervene in the matter immediately. The Saamnaeditorial prompted at least 16 Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, belonging to the RJD, JD (U), SP and the Congress, to give notice for breach of privilegeproceedings against Bal Thackeray.[35]After the matter was raised in the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjeesaid: ‘If anybody has made any comment on our members’ functioning in the conduct of business in the House, not only do we treat that with the contempt that it deserves, but also any action that may be necessary will be taken according to procedure and well established norms. Nobody will be spared.’[35]

    On March 27, 2008 in protest against Balasaheb Thackeray’s editorial, leaders of Shiv Sena in Delhiresigned citing its ‘outrageous conduct’ towards non-Marathis in Maharashtra and announced that they will form a separate party.[36] Addressing a press conference Shiv Sena’s North India chief Jai Bhagwan Goyalsaid the decision to leave the party was taken because of the ‘partial attitude’ of the party high command towards Maharashtrians. ‘Shiv Sena is no different from Khalistan and Jammu and Kashmir militant groups which are trying to create a rift between people along regional lines. The main aim of these forces is to split our country. Like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Shiv Sena too has demeaned North Indians and treated them inhumanely’, he said.[36][37]

    [edit] Views against former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

    Thackeray has been a vocal critic of the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. Thackeray said Kalam was a leading scientist of the country but had ‘lost the dignity of the post’ after he became President. He has criticized Kalam’s indecisiveness regarding the conviction of Mohammad Afzal, who has been sentenced to death following his conviction for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. Thackeray criticizes the fact that a convicted terrorist’s appeal for clemency is even being considered by Kalam.[26]

    ‘Afzal was sentenced to death by the highest court in this country in October and yet the file has been sitting on the President’s table for the past four months. I have not said anything wrong about Kalam. We all have supported him to become President. Afzal’s clemency letter is still lying with the President. Give me another example where the President has not taken decision on a clemency petition for four months.’[26]

    His views on Kalam have been heavily criticized by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi as inappropriate and ‘violative of decorum’.[38]

    [edit] Admiration of Hitler

    Thackeray[39][40] has attracted controversy for his praise of Adolf Hitler.

    Apparently he was quoted by Asiaweek as saying:

    ‘I am a great admirer of Hitler, and I am not ashamed to say so! I do not say that I agree with all the methods he employed, but he was a wonderful organizer and orator, and I feel that he and I have several things in common…. What India really needs is a dictator who will rule benevolently, but with an iron hand.’ [6]

    In an interview with the Indian Express that was printed on January 29, 2007, Thackeray remarked,

    Hitler did very cruel and ugly things. But he was an artist, I love him (for that). He had the power to carry the whole nation, the mob with him. You have to think what magic he had. He was a miracle…. The killing of Jews was wrong. But the good part about Hitler was that he was an artist. He was a daredevil. He had good qualities and bad. I may also have good qualities and bad ones. [7]

    However, in the Star Talk talk show on channel Star Plus, he claimed himself not to admire Hitler.[41]

    Thackeray’s supporters, such as columnist Varsha Bhosle, have defended Thackeray’s position as necessary in what they claim is an atmosphere of religious extremism against Hindus. In defense of a statement by Thackeray that ‘If the Muslims of India behave as the Jews in Germany did, they will deserve the same treatment’, Bhosle writes:

    Germany’s Jews…? What else is required for Hindus to shake off the stupor and consider protecting our civilisation and culture? If telling it like it is makes one a Nazi, I say: Fine, better that than the spineless, deaf, dumb, numb and blind state exalted as Nehruvian Secularism. I wouldn’t even spit on it.[42]

    In an article appearing in on August 20, 2007, Thackeray is quoted as wanting to be a dictator and the Hitler of the whole of India:

    He is on record as having told the Navakal: ‘Yes, I am a dictator. It is a Hitler that is needed in India today’. He was once asked in a television programme whether he wanted to be the Hitler of Mumbai. “Do not underestimate me,” he is reported to have retorted. ‘I am (the Hitler) of the whole of Maharashtra and want to be of whole of India.’ The Hitler question was put to him in September 1996 by Outlook magazine as well during an interview. ‘Once you’d expressed admiration for certain facets of Hitler.’ ‘Comparison was inevitable’, the interviewer prompted. Thackaray said: ‘I have not sent anybody to the gas chamber. If I’d been like that, you wouldn’t have dared to come and interview me.’[43]

    [edit] Pro-Tamil Tiger views

    Thackeray has admitted that he is pro-Tamil Tiger. He says, “I am proud of the Tigers for the gallant manner in which they are fighting.”[44]

    He also wanted a ban on the LTTE lifted by the center-wing government.[45]

    [edit] Rift in party

    An increase in intra-party rivalry between Balasaheb Thackeray’s son Uddhav Thackeray, and nephew Raj Thackerayled to divisions within the Shiv Sena. In addition to this, several old hands such as hard-line leader Narayan Rane and Sanjay Nirupamwere expelled or left the Sena.

    On November 27, 2005, Raj Thackerayannounced his resignation as a primary member of the Shiv Sena. On March 9, 2006, Raj announced the formation of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

    On November 28, 2009, in another jolt to Shiv Sena, Smita Thackeray, daughter in law of Bal Thackeray announced to quit Shiv Sena and join Congress party.[46]

    [edit] Valentine’s Day protests

    Boycotting shops and restaurants that allow young people to celebrate the Western holiday of Valentine’s Day, interpreted as bestial, indecent and a-Bharatiya (un-Indian) by Thackeray, is one of his recent actions. These boycotts have often culminated in violence and the destruction of those shops.

    On February 14, 2006, Balasaheb Thackeray condemned and apologized for the violent attacks of Shiv Sena members upon a private Valentine’s Day celebration in Mumbai. ‘It is said that women were beaten up in the Nallasopara incident. If that really happened, then it is a symbol of cowardice’, Thackeray said, ‘I have always instructed Shiv Sainiks that in any situation women should not be humiliated and harassed.’[8]Thackeray and the Shiv Sena remain opposed to Valentine’s Day celebrations, although they may support an ‘Indian alternative’.[9]However, in some cases, the Sena has been more tolerant during Valentine’s Day celebrations.[47]

    [edit] Threats for the Final match of ICC World Cup Cricket Tournament

    Just before the “ICC World Cup Cricket Tournament” begins, Manohar Joshi, a senior leader of Shiv Sena, announced that, if the Pakistan team reaches the final (scheduled in Mumbai), Bal Thackeray will decide whether to allow them to play or not.[48]

    [edit] Cultural references

    Thackery is satirized in Salman Rushdie‘s novel The Moor’s Last Sigh as ‘Raman Fielding’. Suketu Mehta interviews Thackeray in his critically acclaimed, Pulitzer-nominated, non-fiction 2004 book Maximum City. The Sarkar (film)series is reportedly based on the Thackeray family and this idea was furthered in the second film in which the character of Sanjay Somji was expected to represent Raj Thackeray.

    [edit] See also

    [edit] References

    1. ^ a b c d “Roar of the Tiger”. Daily News and Analysis (DNA). Retrieved 23 January 2011. 

    2. ^ “‘Pune Ratna’ award for Thackeray”. The Indian Express. 22 May 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 

    3. ^ a b Kaminsky, Arnold P.; Long, Roger D. (2011). India Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic (illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. pp. 693-4. ISBN 9780313374623. 

    4. ^ a b c [1]

    5. ^ Know your party: Shiv Sena – Rediff

    6. ^ [2]

    7. ^ [3]

    8. ^ “Banned from voting”. The Hindu. Retrieved 1999-07-28. 

    9. ^ “Thackeray ke Bal par…”. Mid Day. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 

    10. ^ “On the wrong track”. The Hindu. Retrieved 2006-08-11. 

    11. ^ “Sena fate: From roar to meow”. The Times of India. 2005-11-29.,prtpage-1.cms. Retrieved 2006-08-11. 

    12. ^ “Diversionary tactics”. The Hindu Frontline Magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 

    13. ^ [4]

    14. ^ “Thackeray for Hindu suicide squads”. Times of India. 2002-10-15. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 

    15. ^ “Case filed against Thackeray for urging anti-terror suicide-squads”. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 

    16. ^ “India: The politics of passion”. Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 

    17. ^ “Sena land sires suicide camps”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 

    18. ^ “Mumbai belongs to India, says ‘Marathi’ Sachin”. NDTV. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 

    19. ^ Dasgupta, Manas (November 17, 2009). “Protests against Thackeray’s comments”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 2009-11-18. 

    20. ^ “Thackeray’s statement on Sachin, a dangerous trend: Rama Jois”. November 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 

    21. ^ “Political leaders, BCCI attack Thackeray for deriding Sachin”. PTI.–BCCI-attack-Thackeray-for-deriding-Sachin. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 

    22. ^ “Despite Sena threat, ‘MNIK’ opens to packed theatres across country”. TOI. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 

    23. ^ . IBN. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 

    24. ^

    25. ^ [5]

    26. ^ a b c Thackeray lashes out at Prez again,ibnlive

    27. ^ Bal Thackeray in India Today, June 15, 1984.

    28. ^ a b The Rediff Election Interview/Bal Thackeray,

    29. ^ Hindustan of Hindus my dream: Thackeray,

    30. ^ “Mumbai’s unity a slap to fanatics: Thackeray”. The Times Of India. 2006-07-20. 

    31. ^ [ibnpolitics|]

    32. ^ Ganesh Kanate; Shubhangi Khapre. “Now, it’s Bal Thackeray’s turn to rail against Biharis”. Daily News & Analysis. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 

    33. ^ “Biharis are an affliction, says Bal Thackeray”. Bihar Times. 2008-03-05. Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 

    34. ^ a b “Biharis an unwanted lot: Bal Thackeray”. The Times of India. 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 

    35. ^ a b c d “Rattled by Raj, Thackeray abuses Biharis news”. The Indian Express. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 

    36. ^ a b “Shiv Sena’s North Indian leaders quit”. The Times of India. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 

    37. ^ “Delhi Shiv Sena chief resigns”. Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 

    38. ^ “Dasmunsi flays Thackeray’s comments on Kalam”. The Times Of India. 2007-02-03. 

    39. ^P. 90 India and the International System By Sisir Gupta, Mannaraswamighala Sreeranga Rajan, Shivaji Ganguly

    40. ^ P. 201 Jawaharlal Nehru on Communalism By Nand Lal Gupta

    41. ^ Star Talk 08/09/11/

    42. ^ In rod we trust, Varsha Bhosle

    43. ^ “Where Hitler meets Thackeray”. Retrieved 2007-08-24. 

    44. ^ “Thackeray: I am proud of LTTE”

    45. ^ “Thackeray backs [LTTE], wants ban lifted”

    46. ^ “Thackeray bahu Smita set to join Congress”

    47. ^

    48. ^ “Sena leader announces veiled threat on World Cup final involving Pakistan”. Mumbai, India: The Hindu. 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 

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