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Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray died on Saturday in Mumbai after prolonged illness. The 86-year-old Thackeray, who founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 to fight for the rights of Maharashtrians, was suffering from lung and pancreatic ailments and had been put on life-support system for the last few days.
Announcing his death outside Thackeray residence 'Matoshree', the doctor said that Balasaheb breathed his last at 3.30 pm on Saturday.
The body of the Shiv Sena founder will be brought for 'darshan' at 10 am to Shivaji Park on Sunday and will be cremated at 6 pm at the Shivaji Park crematorium.
Reacting to the news, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj posted a tweet saying: "I am terribly pained to hear that the Lion is dead."
Thackeray started his politics with anti-South Indian agitation to protect the jobs of locals. Thackeray later embraced Hindutva and tied up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Before entering politics, Thackeray was a political cartoonist with English language daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, which he quit in 1960 to launch a cartoon weekly Marmik. His cartoons were also published in the Sunday edition of The Times of India.
Thackeray launched Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamna in 1989 where he would target his political opponents and the immigrants to Maharashtra in the most vitriolic language. Shiv Sena joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and won the 1995 Maharashtra State Assembly elections and came to power. For more than four decades, Thackeray ran the Sena with an iron fist. He was a bit like the Godfather of a political party, revered by his supporters and feared by his critics.
For the Shiv Sena, the 1992-93 riots confirmed Thackeray's status as a charismatic larger than life figure. The Shiv Sena became a partner in power in Maharashtra for the first time in 1995. Typically, Thackeray chose to stay away from the chief minister's chair, preferring to be the autocratic remote control, an individual feared by Mumbai's rich and powerful.
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