Shiv Sainik Pradeep Parab turns emotional when he recalls his association with party chief Bal Thackeray. "We are all praying for saheb to be cured. The very thought of life without him makes us feel like orphans," said the Parel resident. The middle-aged Sena supporter added that Shiv Sainiks like him were praying for Thackeray.
After reports of Thackeray’s failing health made the rounds on Wednesday night, Parab and thousands of Sainiks gathered at Matoshree, the Thackerays’ residence in suburban Bandra, to demonstrate their loyalty to their party boss.
The surging masses of Sena supporters from across the state are organising artis and pujas off the busy Kalanagar junction on the Western Express Highway and are raising slogans in support of the Sena and its chief, who has a demigod like status among his supporters.
Some managed to break the barriers erected by the police to enter the road connecting Kalanagar. Sainiks have begun praying at Siddhivinayak temple and also at the Sai Baba temple in Bandra’s MIG colony, said Parab.
Former mayor Mahadeo Deole’s voice chokes with emotion when he speaks about Thackeray. The former RSS man joined the Sena in 1966, the year of its inception, and said that despite having served as the first citizen of Mumbai, prefers to call himself a Shiv sainik.
"I never sought anything from him. He gave me positions without me demanding them," Deole added."We are praying for Balasaheb. We want him to see the party come to power in the state," said senior citizen and Sewri resident Chandrabhaga Shinde.
On Wednesday night, as reports of Thackeray’s failing health spread, Sena supporters gathered at Kalanagar turned unruly.