Mumbai: Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray expired today after a prolonged illness at his Matoshree residence. He breathed his last at 3.30 pm. Bal Thackeray had cardiac arrest and we could not revive him despite efforts, informed his doctor Dr Jalil Parkar.
Thackeray, 86, was taken off life support system on Thursday but was still being administered oxygen artificially.
Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks were seen grieving outside Matoshree and police is seen gearing up to control the crowd coming in large numbers.
The Shiv Sena has appealed to its activists to maintain calm, co-operate with the police and not target the media.
The body of Bal Thackeray would be kept for `darshan' at Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai tomorrow from 7am.
Shivaji Park was the place where the very first rally of Shiv Sena was held, and where Thackeray held his annual Dussehra rallies year after year. This year, however, he had not been able to attend the event because of ill-health.
There was speculation that he could be shifted to Lilavati Hospital but a senior doctor attending on the ailing leader said on condition of anonymity that there was no such plan. A medical team from the hospital from was constantly monitoring his condition.
BJP, NCP and the Congress offered condolences to his family immediately after the news broke out.
The condition of Thackeray, who has not been keeping well for the last few weeks, suddenly worsened on Wednesday night when he had to be put on life support. No medical bulletin on his condition has been issued in the last three days though Shiv Sena leaders have communicated with the assembled media and Thackeray's son Uddhav briefly addressed the supporters twice in two days asking them to pray for his recovery. He, however, did not reveal much by way of information on Thackeray's health.
People from the tinsel town, politicians and common Shiv Sena workers had thronged to 'Matoshree' in the past few days. A group of Muslims also offered prayers. 'Matoshree' has virtually been turned into a fortress with huge presence of personnel from Mumbai police, State Reserve Police and Rapid Action Force.
Bal Thackeray had acquired greater fame, or notoriety, than his father, Keshav Sitaram, who was hardly known outside western India. Till now, however, neither Uddhav nor Raj has shown a capacity to outshine him.
Thackeray is the first of the regional leaders who came to the fore in the 1960s as the Congress began to decline. But unlike leaders like C.N. Annadurai in the DMK or Parkash Singh Badal in the Akali Dal, who tried to outgrow their image of being concerned solely with Tamil Nadu or Punjab, Thackeray is unapologetic about his sectarian outlook being restricted only to Maharashtra.