HEALTH / FITNESS NEWS
November 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM
  Follow @ Twitter

Fiery Indian nationalist Bal Thackeray, who founded the right-wing Hindu party Shiv Sena, died on Saturday after suffering cardiac arrest, his doctor said.

Thackeray, 86, has "breathed his last", his physician Jalil Parkar told a huge crowd assembled amid a heavy security presence outside the veteran politician's house in India's financial hub of Mumbai.

Thackeray, regarded as one of India's most divisive politicians, had been put on a ventilator earlier in the week after his health deteriorated sharply, and Parkar said attempts to revive him when he suffered a cardiac arrest failed.

Authorities placed thousands of extra police on the streets to prevent unrest following the death of the politician, who had been widely accused of having stoked ethnic and religious violence in the past.

News of his failing health had drawn large crowds to his residence, putting Mumbai on high alert amid concern that their grief could turn to anger.

Supporters gathered there sobbed into their handkerchiefs after hearing the news of the death of Thackeray, one of the best-known figures in the Maharashtra state and its capital, which his party renamed from Bombay to Mumbai.

The funeral rites for the founder and president of the Shiv Sena or the Army of Shivaji -- the Maratha king who battled against the Muslim Mughal empire -- were due to be held on Sunday.

A massive procession was planned through the streets of Mumbai for Thackeray, known for his charismatic speaking skills and nicknamed "The Tiger" because of his fearlessness and readiness to take on any opponent.

Tributes poured in for the politician.

"He was an iron man, he spoke in the language of the masses. It worked very well because he connected with them at the very basic level. He gave them hope," Shobhaa De, novelist and a popular columnist, told India's CNN-IBN network.

Under Thackeray's lead, the Shiv Sena had long fought to protect local Marathi-speaking "sons of the soil" from migrant workers.

"He was a consummate communicator whose stature in the politics of Maharashtra was unique," said the office of Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on social networking site Twitter.

The party, which has controlled Mumbai's city council since the mid-1990s, is a staunch ally of the Hindu nationalist and main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP announced it was cancelling its attendance at a dinner to be held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday night to show respect for Thackeray.

As rumours about his condition swirled earlier in the week, roads were unusually quiet and numerous shops shut, especially in strongholds of the Shiv Sena, a party associated with intimidation and violence in the past.

Thackeray's son Uddhav, the Shiv Sena executive president, had appealed to the party's supporters to stay calm.

Testament to Thackeray's enduring clout were not only the crowds of loyalists but a stream of high-profile visitors to his home while he lay on his deathbed, including politicians, businessmen and film stars.

Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan and his actor son Abhishek were among those to visit on Wednesday night, when they suffered minor injuries in the rowdy crowds.

The elder Bachchan spoke fondly in memory of Thackeray on Twitter, saying it was "difficult to imagine that he has left us!"

Thackeray had been admitted to hospital in July with breathing problems and in October his ill-health prevented him from attending a Shiv Sena rally, which he instead addressed by video link.

AFP
 


PREVIOUS STORY
Contraband cigarettes smuggled in coffins in Bulgaria
NEXT STORY
Meat bad for morals, says Indian textbook

Bookmark and Share
   




FIJI NEWS
FijiFirst names first batch of candidatesFijiFirst leader and Fijiís Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today announced the party's first batch of candidates which includes him and eight other government ministers.
SPORTS
Rewa eager to beat Labasa at homeRewa is determined to end its winless streak against Labasa and coach Marika Rodu sees tomorrow's clash against the Babasiga Lions as another tough battle.
TECHNOLOGY
Only call details given to police in 670 cases: VFVodafone Fiji says it provided call details in 670 cases to police on the production of a search warrant or court order, but does not listen to or record calls, and could not provide such information.
LIFESTYLE/FASHION
Fijian model joins Trumpís agencyA yearís wait finally ended for Fijian teen model Phillipa Steele yesterday as she flew out of the country to join one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in the world Ė Trump Model Management
ENTERTAINMENT
5 Seconds of Summer announce Aust, NZ showsHot on the heels of selling out two shows at Londonís iconic Wembley Arena, the chart-topping Sydney boys are heading out on the road to play their first-ever headline Australian and New Zealand arena shows, touring in support of their recently released self-titled #1 smash hit debut album.
OFFBEAT
Mercury 'took Princess Diana to gay barQueen singer Freddie Mercury disguised the late Princess Diana as a male model and smuggled her into a notorious gay bar, according to a memoir serialised in Britain's Sunday Times.
NEWS SPORTS INFOTAINMENT SERVICES MOBILE EXTRA HOT TOPICS