Ethnic politics in Mumbai’s melting pot: RIP Bal Thackeray

Meena Menon in The Hindu analyses Shiv Sena founder and leader, Bal Thackeray’s origins and legacy

Bal Thackeray, the man who could bring Mumbai and the entire State of Maharashtra to a standstill by a single command, and whose ethnic and communal rhetoric added a strain of perpetual menace to an already fraught metropolis, died in Mumbai on Saturday. He was 86.

Never one to mince his words, he once famously described himself as the “remote control” of the first Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra in 1995. Two months ago, as the illness to which he eventually succumbed spread, he told Saamna somewhat mirthfully that he didn’t have the remote control for age in his hands.

Ever since Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena, or ‘Army of Shivaji,’ in June 19, 1966, it has set the tone for politics in the State. With his brand of rather vicious humour and fondness for mimicry, he forged a bond with his followers, speaking to people in a language they could understand. Exhorted by his father Prabodhankar Thackeray, young Bal formed the Sena as a social organisation. Its aim: to take care of the Marathi manoos, who were ostensibly slighted in their own State due to a proliferation of migrants to the prosperous region. more

Also read Vir Sanghvi, Pritish Nandy on Bal Thackeray

In Frontline, How Thackeray & Co. figure in the Srikrishna Commission Report on Mumbai riots

In Economic TimesPatrick French on problems his heirs will have to face

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