Thackeray remains critical, crowds gather outside home

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 05:20 hrs

Mumbai, Nov 15 (IANS) Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray continued to remain in a critical condition Thursday as anxious crowds gathered outside his residence Matoshri and his son, party executive president Uddhav Thackeray, said the family had not lost hope.

"I have not lost hope. We are facing a crisis, we shall overcome," a grim looking Uddhav, flanked by son Aditya, told supporters in the early hours of the morning.

Mumbai Police and other security agencies made tight security arrangements around Matoshri, the Thackeray clan's home in Bandra west.

Over 350 police personnel, plus the Rapid Action Force and other contingents, led by top officers, have deployed stringent security in the vicinity.

Uddhav had stepped outside the Thackeray home Matoshri briefly around 2 a.m. to address the massive crowds of anxious party activists, who had gathered since Wednesday night.

Uddhav categorically appealed to party activists and the people to "remain calm and maintain peace" and ensure that the image of Matoshri was not spoiled.

President Pranab Mukherjee cancelled his scheduled two-day trip to Maharashtra starting Thursday.

The abrupt cancellation of the president's visit to the state was attributed to preventing diversion of security in case there were fresh developments in Thackeray's health, an official, requesting anonymity said.

"The team of doctors is continuing their efforts... Balasaheb's self-determination is very high... We are facing a crisis, we shall overcome," Uddhav said - in his third appeal in less than four hours.

He assured the people that Thackeray was responding positively to the 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.

On Thursday morning the crowds returned, but the security agencies were better prepared to handle them.

Vehicular movement was unhampered Thursday morning as police had arranged diversions to avoid traffic jams at the Kala Nagar junction leading to Matoshri.

"Thackeray is serious, but stable. A team of doctors is continuously monitoring him," a senior party official, who met him last evening, told IANS.

Besides all members of the Thackeray family, nephew Raj Thackeray and his wife Sharmila, top Shiv Sena leaders like Manohar Joshi, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinod Tawade and others rushed to the bungalow around midnight.

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.

On Thursday morning, Raj returned while others like BJP deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde arrived. Music director Bappi Lahiri and other prominent personalities from different walks of life were also seen visiting the Thackeray residence.

Munde said Thackeray's condition was stable and that he was responding to treatment.

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