Balasaheb Thackeray was the founder and the chief of the Indian Political Party ‘Shivsena’, which is the Marathi ethnocentric party of Maharashtra. He is known as the Hindu Hriday Samraat. He was also the popular cartoonist. He was also the founder and the editor of the newspapers like ‘Saamna’ and ‘Dopahar Ka Saamna’.
Early Life & Background
Balasaheb Thackeray was born as Bal Keshav Thackeray on 23rd Jan 1927 at Pune, Maharashtra. He was the son of Keshav Thackeray who is popularly known as Prabodhankar Thackeray. His father was a writer and social activist who was the part of Samyukta Maharashtra Chalwal. Since his childhood, Balasaheb was attracted towards Arts, particularly cartoons. David Lo a great cartoonist was his idol.
Balasaheb started his career as a Cartoonist with an English daily newspaper ‘Free Press Journal’ in Mumbai. When Mumbai was declared as a Bi-Linguistic State, Marathi people were against this decision and demanded a separate state for Marathi people along with Mumbai. To achieve this demand ‘Samyukta Maharashtra Samitee’ was formed which was led by Acharya Atre, S.M.Joshi, Prabhodhankar Thackeray (father of Balasaheb), Shripad Dange and many others. During this period, Balasaheb published his cartoons on these social issued in many Marathi Weeklies by the name of ‘Maavala’. As a cartoonist, he was the only Asian Indian whose cartoon was incorporated in the biography of Sir Winston Churchill published in England.
Later in 13th August 1960, he along with his brother Shrikant Thackeray started a first Marathi cartoon weekly named ‘Marmik’. The launched was done by the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Yashwantrao Chavan. He used ‘Marmik’ to campaign against the Non-Marathi people of Mumbai.
Journey in Politics
On 19th June 1966, Balasaheb founded Shivsena with the motive to fight for the rights of Marathi people living in the Maharashtra. The inauguration was done at the hands of his father Prabodhankar Thackeray in his small room at Dadar. In October end in 1966, Shivsena conducted its first rally at Shivaji Park, Mumbai. . In his speech Prabhodhankar Thackeray declared that, ‘I am giving my son Bal Thackeray for the Maharashtra’.
In 1967, Shivsena contested the Thane Municipal Election and came out Victorious. In the following year, Shivsena contested the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai and came out with flying colors. Out of 120 seats Shivsena won 42 seats. In August 1968, Shivsena formed a Trade Union ‘Bhartiya Kamgar Sena’ to deliver the justice to workers, employees of many industries. In 1969, Balasaheb declared agitation with the demand to absorb the Marathi speaking Districts, Villages, Towns, which are in Karnataka State, which included Belgaum, Karwar, Nipani, Bhalki, Bidar in Maharashtra as per the provisions of Constitution of Linguistic States. Due to which, he was was arrested and was put in jail for 3 months. This led to riots in Mumbai. After the request to Balasaheb from the Government, he responded Mumbai to calm down through jail.
In 1970, many senior leaders such as Babasaheb Purandare, Madhav Mahere, Madhav Deshpande and many more supported Shivsena, due to which party grew in power. In June 1970, in the by-election of ‘Parel’ assembly constituency Shivsena defeated the opposition candidate who was supported by the alliance of 10 Political parties. In 1971, Shivsena’s candidate Dr.Hemchandra Gupte won the elections for Mayor of Mumbai Municipal Corporation and became the first mayor from Shivsena. In 1972, Shivsena launched a new wing by the name ‘Sthaniya Lokadhikar Samitee’, which not only demanded the priority but also trained the local people to raise their standards in all fields, so that they could be selected on merit.
On 19th June 1977, Balasaheb inaugurated the head quarter of Shivsena, ‘Shivsena Bhavan’ located at Dadar, Mumbai. Unfortunately, Shivsena lost the Assembly elections in 1978 and thus, Balasaheb offer his resignation. However, due to the request of thousands of Shivsainiks, he withdrew his resignation. In 1985, Shivsena emerged as a single largest party in Municipal Corporation of Mumbai election and Chhagan Bhujbal became the Mayor of Mumbai. Shivsena adopted ‘Hindutva’ as its ideology and contested assembly by-election of Vile Parle constituency with the Slogan ‘Garvase Kaho Hum Hindu Hai’ in 1987.
Later, Shivsena allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The alliance of Sena-BJP won the 4 parliamentary seats in 1989. In early 1990, Balasaheb travelled throughout Maharashtra and conducted mammoth rallies. Due to this, the alliance of Sena-BJP won 52 seats in Maharashtra State Assembly Election. Manohar Joshi became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and for the first time, the oath ceremony was conducted at Shivaji Park in the presence of millions of people.
Meanwhile during the Mumbai Riots in 1992, Balasaheb showed a great support to Hindus. From his one sentence, all the shivsainiks came on roads to saved thousands of lives. People use to call him the saviour of Hindus
In 1997, Shivsena won the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai elections. While in 1998, three Shivsena MP’s became minister at the Centre. Later in July 1999, Balasaheb was banned from voting and contesting in any election for six years from 11th December 1999 to 10th December 2005 for using ‘Hindutva’ in his speeches. Then he voted in 2006 BMC elections.
In 2003, Balasaheb’s son Uddhav Thackeray was elected as a working president of Shivsena. In 2007, Shivsena once again won Mumbai and Thane Municipal Corporation elections. Then due to ill health, Balasaheb wasn’t active in the work but yet he use to grace the Dasara Rally by his presence.
Balasaheb Thackeray is the only leader in the history of politics to lead an organization, a party for 46 years at the same ground- Shivaji Park, Mumbai, with the same saffron flag and millions of listeners during the Dusara Rally. In his speech he used to begin his sentence with ‘Jamlelya Mazya Tamam Hindu Bandhavano, Bhaginino Aani Matano!’ The moment this sentence ends the entire rally used to clap and loud slogans of his ‘jay jay kar’ charged the entire atmosphere. While at the end of his speech, he used to say ‘Jai Hindi! Jai Maharashtra! Vande Matharam!’
Balasaheb use to attend every Dasara Rally of Shivsena which is conducted at Shivaji Park, Mumbai. However on 24th October 2012, Balasaheb couldn’t attend the Dasara Rally for the first time but he addressed the rally through video.
On 23rd January 1989, Balasaheb launched Marathi Daily named ‘Saamna’ with the caption ‘Jwalant Hindutvacha Puraskar Karnare Dainik’. It became the voice of Shivsena, with Balasaheb as its Editor. Later, he launched the Hindi newspaper named ‘Dopahar Ka Saamna’.
On 14th June 1948, Balasaheb got married to Sarala Vaidya, popularly known as Meena Tai Thackeray. He has three sons Bindumadhav Thackeray, Jaidev Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray, a chief of Shiv Sena. On 6th Sep 1996, Balasaheb Thackeray’s wife Meena Tai Thackeray passed away.
He is the uncle of MNS chief Raj Thackeray. His grandson Aditya Thackeray is the president of Yuva Sena, a wing of Shiv Sena. He is the father-in-law of Rashmi Thackeray (Uddhav Thackeray’s wife) and Smita Thackeray (Jaidev Thackeray’s wife).
On 17th November 2012, Balasaheb Thackeray took his last breath at his residence Matoshree, Mumbai due to the consequence of a cardiac arrest. When this news broke out, all the shops and companies were shut down and Maharashtra was put on a high alert. Almost all the ministers of India and celebrities gave the statements of praise and condolences for Balasaheb.
On 18th November 2012, a state funeral was arranged in the Shivaji Park. It was first public funeral in the city since that of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1920. Lakhs of people came during the funeral to catch the last glimpse of Balasaheb along with ministers of Shivsena, some of the other politicians and celebrities. The funeral was broadcast live on the various news channels. During the funeral, he was given an honour with the 21 gun salute.