Bal Thackeray, the man who started his career as a cartoonist and later went on to become one of the most influential leaders of Maharashtra, left behind a legacy that can never be forgotten. Born on 23rd January 1926, Bal Thackeray aka Balasaheb was loved and admired by thousands of his followers but at the same some of his statements often made headlines because of the controversial tone of his opinions.
Apart from supporting the unity of Maharashtra and Maharashtrians through Shiv Sena and his satirical weekly, Thackeray was known for his blunt remarks on Muslims, migrants from the rest of the country, and several well known personalities from Sachin Tendulkar to Shahrukh Khan.
Here are some of Bal Thackeray’s bold statements that made him the king of controversies:
- Reacting to Sachin Tendulkar’s comment that Mumbai belongs to every Indian; the Shiv Sena founder snubbed the cricketer by saying that “the ‘Marathi Manoos’ will not tolerate an infringement of their rights”. He also warned him not to “lose the gains in cricket field by entering the political arena.” To this, Tendulkar said that he is extremely proud to be a Maharashtrian but an Indian first.
- When Indian Tennis star Sania Mirza got married to Pakistani Cricketer Shoaib Malik, the leader said that Sania was not famous for her tennis skills but for her ”tight clothes, fashion and love affairs.” He even remarked that had she been a true Indian, she would have married an Indian man.
- When Shahrukh Khan supported the selection of Pakistani players in his cricket team in IPL, Thackeray said that the actor should be awarded with Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest honor in Pakistan.
- He was totally against the idea of people migrating to Maharashtra, especially from South and North India. As Mumbai got crowded with more and more migrants, he said, “Mumbai has been made into a Dharamshala.” He even suggested a permit system to impose curbs on the migration.
- It’s a well established fact thatThackeray was an admirer of Adolf Hitler. As per his statement, “I do not say that I agree with all the methods he employed, but he was a wonderful organizer and orator.” He even said that he and Hitler have several things in common.
- In order to counter Islamic terrorism, he suggested that Hindu terrorism can help in bringing Islam down to its knees. He even suggested to form suicide bomb squads as a protection to India and Hindus residing in the country.
Despite all this, Bal Thackeray was known to share a great equation with most of the Bollywood personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, and Sanjay Dutt. Owing to his influential position in the state, he helped Sanjay Dutt get a bail in the 1993 Bombay blasts case while he supported Amitabh Bachchan during the Bofors Scandal. Even though Balasaheb is not alive anymore, yet his cartoons, his statements, and his work propagated in Maharashtra though Shiv Sena are the memories he has left behind.