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Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray died at his residence ‘Matoshree’ here on Saturday. He was 86. 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 on life support for the past few days. He was declared dead at 3.30 pm on Saturday due to a cardio-respiratory arrest.
Family members, including son and successor Uddhav and nephew Raj, and top party leaders were with him.
The funeral procession would begin at 10 am tomorrow and the cremation is likely to happen at the Shivaji Park crematorium at 4 pm.
Hundreds of Shiv Sena supporters gathered outside Thackeray’s house broke down and tried to console each other. Security has been stepped up in the metropolis. Mumbai police have issued an advisory asking citizens to step out of their houses only in an emergency.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the death of Thackeray. Singh cancelled a dinner for BJP leaders scheduled tonight.
Thackeray started out as a cartoonist alongside R K Laxman in the Free Press Journal in the 1950s. He founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 on the plank of job security for the Marathi Manoos (sons of the soil), which translated into attacks on south Indians whom he had blamed for taking away opportunities from the locals. Later, his politics centred around upholding the Hindu identity and anti-Congressism.
Always the kingmaker, Thackeray was instrumental in ending Congress hegemony in Maharashtra when the Shiv Sena and the BJP stormed to power in 1995. He never held any public office.