Ten years after his passing away, a portrait of the late Shiv Sena founder and Hindutva icon, Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray, shall be unveiled in the central hall of Maharashtra Legislature on January 23, marking his 97th birth anniversary.
Ironically, the programme comes on a day when his son and ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s five-year tenure as the party president comes to end.
Though it is not presently clear if he will attend the event on Monday, the Sena (UBT) has sought the Election Commission of India’s permission to hold the party chief and other internal elections.
However, amid the ongoing battle for Thackeray’s legacy, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar has invited the entire Thackeray clan – Uddhav and his family, estranged cousin Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray, another grandson Nihar Bindumadhav Thackeray, etc.
The Sena (UBT) has termed the event as ‘politically-motivated’ after a faction led by Eknath Shinde quit the party in June 2022 and he was later anointed as the Chief Minister.
Uddhav Thackeray, his son Aditya Thackeray, several other party leaders like Sanjay Raut and Kishore Tiwari have accused the Shinde group of being a ‘gang of father-thieves’ on several occasions in the past.
Chief Minister Shinde, along with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis shall unveil the portrait which will be attended by Deputy Chairperson of Legislative Council Neelam Gorhe, Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Ajit Pawar, Leader of Opposition (Council) Ambadas Danve, state ministers, Central ministers from Maharashtra, MPs, MLAs and MLCs, besides film, sports and cultural personalities and other prominent dignitaries.
Narwekar last week said that it’s a non-political event where all will gather to pay tributes to Balasaheb Thackeray, his services to the state and nation.
Thackeray (January 23, 1926-November 17, 2012), a cartoonist, journalist, firebrand orator, champion of the sons of the soil and the Marathis, a mass-leader who never held any political office, is considered among the foremost and most influential leaders in the state who commanded respect across the political spectrum.
The portrait by senior artist Chandrakala Kadam was commissioned after the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BSS-BJP) alliance toppled the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Uddhav Thackeray in June 2022.