Mercurial icon of Marathi pride - The New Indian Express

Mercurial icon of Marathi pride

Published: 18th November 2012 08:47 AM

Last Updated: 18th November 2012 08:48 AM

The tiger whose one roar could halt Mumbai in its tracks, breathed his last at Matoshree, his residence in Mumbai, on Saturday. Cartoonist, satirist, editor, politician - Bal Keshav Thackeray lived for a significant part of his 86 years of life as one of the influential figures in Maharashtra. The fact that Thackeray had a foreboding about his journey of life coming to an end could be seen from his Dushhera rally address to his party men in Mumbai. Unable to make it to the Shivaji Park at Dadar, which is a 10-minute drive from his Bandra residence, Thackeray addressed his party men through a video recorded message. Gone were the resounding baritone and stoic assertive behaviour that held the audience captivated for hours. Instead, what the party men saw was an old frail man who was a ghost of his former self. The man who issued diktats now humbly requested the people to stand by son Uddhav and grandson Aditya.

However, Thackeray had started to withdraw from active politics ever since he had handed over the reins of the party to his son Uddhav, in 2004. Thackeray relegated himself as mentor with the almost ornamental post of party chief.

A self-claimed leader of Hindutva ideology, Thackeray started off as cartoonist and even had a stint in the The Free Press Journal, sharing his desk with cartoonist legend R K Laxman.

The year 1960 was very significant for him. This was the year when he had decided to quit The Free Press Journal and started his own Marathi magazine, Marmik. This was also the year when his wife Meena gave birth to their third son Uddhav. His witty writing coupled with sarcastic cartoons struck the right chord with the local Marathi people who felt marginalised by the influx of migrants.

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