Bal Thackeray, also called ‘Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray’ (born Jan. 23, 1927, Pune, Maharashtra state, India), Indian journalist and politician, founder of the Shiv Sena (“Army of Shiva”) political party, and advocate of a strong pro-Hindu policy in India. Under his leadership the Shiv Sena became a dominant political force in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.
Thackeray began his career in the early 1950s as a cartoonist for the Free Press Journal in Mumbai (Bombay). His cartoons also appeared in the Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun and in the Sunday edition of The New York Times. In the 1960s he became increasingly involved in politics. He developed a strong regional following through his work for a weekly Marathi-language journal called Marmik, which he published with his brother and which polemicized against the influence of “outsiders” in Maharashtra. In 1966 he founded the Shiv Sena.
Although Thackeray never held an official post or ran for elective office, for years he was generally regarded as the most powerful man in Maharashtra. He was often referred to as the “godfather of Maharashtra” or, as his legion of devout followers called him, Hindu Hridaysamrat (“Emperor of the Hindu Heart”). His party advocated the end of India’s constitutional status as a secular state and the adoption of Hinduism as the country’s official religion. Such was Thackeray’s power that when the Shiv Sena gained political control of Maharashtra in the 1990s, he had Bombay renamed Mumbai for the goddess Mumbadevi—the name by which the city is known in the Marathi language—and when Thackeray was satirized by novelist Salman Rushdie in The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995), the book was immediately banned in Maharashtra. Over the years, Thackeray had been accused of inciting violent conflicts between Hindus and Muslims. The most notorious incident came in 1992–93, when nearly 1,000 people were killed during several weeks of anti-Muslim rioting in Mumbai. Despite having been known to speak admiringly of Adolf Hitler, Thackeray insisted that he was “not against each and every” Muslim. “But those Muslims who reside in this country but do not go by the laws of the land,” he once declared in an interview, “I consider such people traitors.”
Amid allegations that it employed illegal and sometimes violent tactics, Thackeray’s party grew into a major political force in Maharashtra. In alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiv Sena won 138 out of 288 seats in the state’s assembly in 1995—enough to form a coalition government. In power, Thackeray continued to be a lightning rod for controversy. His supporters destroyed the 16th-century Babri Masjid (“Mosque of B?bur”) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in 1992, and in 2000 he was arrested on charges of having incited the deadly 1992–93 riots in Mumbai. Though Thackeray never denied the charges, they were dismissed after a magistrate ruled that the statute of limitations on the case had run out.
“I am a great admirer of Hitler, and I am not ashamed to say so! I do not say that I agree with all the methods he employed, but he was a wonderful organizer and orator, and I feel that he and I have several things in common…. What India really needs is a dictator who will rule benevolently, but with an iron hand, Thackeray once said”.
In year 1996, Year 1996 – Thackeray’s oldest son Bindumadhav died in a road accident on April 20, 1996. The fatal accident took place when the Tata Sumo that Binda Thackeray was travelling in crashed into a tempo near Waksai Phata on the Mumbai-Pune highway.
Information Source: Britannica and Wikipedia