Mumbai: "I have not lost hope. We are facing a crisis, we shall overcome," Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said early Thursday even as his father and party supremo Bal Thackeray remained "critical".
Uddhav stepped outside the Thackeray home 'Matoshri' briefly around 2 a.m. to address the massive crowd of anxious party activists who gathered there since late Wednesday.
Accompanied by son Aditya, Uddhav appealed to the people to "remain calm and maintain peace" and ensure that the image of 'Matoshri' is not spoiled.
"The team of doctors is continuing their efforts....Balasaheb's self-determination is very strong... We are facing a crisis, we shall overcome," Uddhav assured his supporters.
He added that Thackeray was responding positively to the medical treatment being administered by the doctors and urged his supporters to pray for their leader's health and co-operate in maintaining peace.
The 86-year-old Thackeray has been suffering from breathing problems and has been occasionally put on oxygen.
Shortly after Uddhav's assurance, many of the 5,000-plus party activists who had crowded around 'Matoshri' slowly started dispersing.
Over 5,000 anxious Shiv Sainiks from Mumbai, Thane and other parts of the state trooped to Bandra east awaiting a word on their beloved leader's health.
Late Wednesday, party executive president Uddhav Thackeray, through senior party colleague Ramdas Kadam issued an appeal to all party activists to "remain calm" and said treatment was continuing on the ailing leader.
Later, he and cousin Raj also came out briefly to assure that Thackeray was continuing treatment and appealed for peace.
Mumbai Police and other security agencies deployed tight security outside 'Matoshri', the clan's home in Bandra west. Over 350 police personnel led by top officers were engaged in beefing up security arrangements in the vicinity.
All roads leading to 'Matoshri' were also barricaded and even some party leaders had to abandon their vehicles near the Western Express Highway and walk the short route to the Thackeray household.
Traffic jams were reported on major roads to the north and south of Bandra inconveniencing thousands of people celebrating Diwali.
"Thackeray is serious, but stable. A team of doctors is continuously monitoring him," a senior party official who met him Wednesday evening, told IANS, preferring anonymity.
Besides all members of the Thackeray family, nephew Raj Thackeray and his wife Sharmila, top Shiv Sena leaders like ex-Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi, senior leader Subhash Desai, party MP Sanjay Raut, legislators Ramdas Kadam, Eknath Shinde and other elected representatives at various levels, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinod Tawade and others rushed to the bungalow around midnight.
Later, state Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Bollywood mega-star Amitabh Bachchan accompanied by son Abhishek, Sanjay Dutt and wife Manyata were among other prominent personalities who went to Matoshri.