You loved him, you hated him, but you never could ignore him. That was Bal Keshav Thackeray, a fierce proponent of Hindu supremacism in a secular India who built his chauvinistic politics around the emotive cause of regional pride of 112 million people of Maharashtra, the country’s most industrialised state and home to its world renowned film and entertainment industry. He was 86.
Views on Bal Thackeray, known as Balasaheb, were as polarised as the politics he practiced. Known for his caustic tongue, he was idolised by his followers in the Shiv Sena and scorned in equal measure by liberal and secular Indians for his communal, divisive politics that didn’t stop with radical expression of views against Muslims and violent action against those opposed to his extreme righwing ideas – including being firmly opposed to the visit of the Pakistani cricket team to India.
The cartoonist turned politician was often portrayed as a roaring tiger, the much cherished logo of his party Shiv Sena, which he formed to accord dignity to Maharashtrians but which became known as a party of restless youngsters out for trouble. He was a demogogue whose strong views polarised the polity at the state and the national level, but he never flinched from expressing himself with conviction despite opposition.
The posterboy of rightwing Hindu and Marathi chauvinism, he never plunged into electoral politics and never contested any polls. He never made it to the national stage either but remained an active, acidic voice, commenting on any and every issue through the party mouthpiece Saamna…News Source