The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Nov 17, 2012
 

Bal Thackeray, firebrand Indian Hindu nationalist, dies at 86

 
 

MUMBAI (REUTERS) - Mr Bal Keshav Thackeray, one of India's most polarising politicians and leader of an influential right-wing Hindu nationalist party that has dominated politics in the country's richest city for two decades, has died aged 86.

Mr Thackeray died of cardio-respiratory arrest on Saturday at his home, one of his doctors, Dr Jalil Parker, said. He had been ill for some time and was rumoured to have died earlier this week.

A religious zealot whose grip over Mumbai often resembled that of a mob boss, Mr Thackeray was president and founder of the hardline Shiv Sena (Shiva's Army) party, built around his fiery rhetoric on religion, immigration and communalism.

A hero of Mumbai's Hindu working class, he was heralded as a staunch defender of regional heritage by his supporters and despised as a hot-headed bigot by others. He devoted his public life to championing the rights of Mumbai's "sons of the soil".