A sea of humanity witnessed the first ever public cremation in Mumbai as the mortal remains of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Keshav Thackeray was consigned to flames on a specially erected public platform at the Historic Shivaji Park, Thackeray’s favourite spot, which he always referred to as ‘Shiv Tirth’ (Shiv pilgrim centre). He was identified as The Tiger and was affectionately called Balasaheb Thackeray. He was Maharashtra’s militant flag bearer of Hindu nationalism and Regional chauvinism, who did not hesitate to resort to mob tactics to have his will enforced, yet will not take any ministerial post; he was contented to be the King Maker from the epicenter of Maharashtra Politics.
His ideology of Regionalism have always been misinterpreted. Balasaheb was diehard Marathi chauvinism in India, and a mascot of true Indian globally. He advocated the Regional party based on lingo and at the same time extremely vocal over the influx of Pakistanis and Bangladeshi, yet maintaining Secularism. His personal physician Jalil Parkar was present during his last rites all throughout. It was a rare honour for this Muslim doctor who had come to be an important fixture of the Thackeray family. Parkar has been the personal physician of the family since the last four years.
His mentor was none other than his father, Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, who was the champion of awakening the community which he inherited and has brought the true regionalism at the crescendo in Indian Politics which was witnessed during his last rites. A sea of humanity, estimated to be about 19 lakhs poured out on all roads leading to Dadar’s Shivaji Park in central Mumbai where the funeral procession reached seven hours after it started from Matoshri, the Thackeray residence seven kms away.
However, one of his dreams is yet to be fulfilled – that is to see his son Uddhav Thackeray and his nephew Raj Thackeray – Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief, together. Raj stood by his cousin in support as Balasaheb’s mortal remains were consigned to the flames. Uddhav led Raj by his hand, implying they be together during the sad moment, just as his father wished since the past few months. Only minutes before the funeral pyre was lit, Raj broke down, with tears streaming down his cheeks, While Uddhav remained in total silence, bearing all the pain within.
As the Tiger of Maharashtra was laid to eternal rest, his ideology will live on. His believe of just two cast – Rich and poor, where the rich should remain rich and the poor must become rich should be emulated by all the Regional parties including in Meghalaya.
Meghalaya achieved the statehood through non-violence movement by the regional parties – Hills State Movement. The en masse resignation by the elected members to the then United Assam Assembly to protest against the introduction of Assamese language Bill, ultimately could achieve the statehood on January 21, 1972. After that many attempts were made to unify the regional parties in the state, but due to differences in ideologies, lack of leadership, or even may be without the sanction of the public, neither the regional parties in Meghalaya could come under one umbrella, nor could they keep the flock together in one voice, like Balasaheb managed to do so.
Meghalaya, be it politicians or pressure groups should also be a flag bearer of Regionalism with open-mindedness for development; taking the entire state along while keeping a filter system against influx. The indigenous Indian is encouraged to progress, while fighting tooth and nail for any influx of illegal migrants from neighboring countries. Once every state adopts such formula regionalism with global outlook will surely blossom, which means we will have a peaceful and progressive state. May Balasaheb rest in peace.