Some television viewers and crowds waiting outside Matoshree may have been surprised to see a man dressed in a pink shirt step up to address the media and announce the demise of Bal Thackeray, even as Sena leaders stood around him.
But those close to Thackeray would know that Dr Jalil Parkar is a chest physician and the family doctor who had been treating Bal Thackeray for close to four years.
It was in 2009 when Thackeray was taken to Lilavati Hospital with breathing difficulties that Parker first treated him. The irony was hard to miss: Thackeray headed a party known for its right-wing Hindu views while Parkar is a Muslim.
But religion or ideology was never an issue and Parkar soon became a permanent fixture in Thackeray’s life, even seen sitting behind Thackeray while he addressed his supporters at the Dussehra rally in 2011. The bond between the two was evident when Parkar’s eyes moistened while announcing news of Thackeray’s demise.
For the Sena, which have been known for their stance on Hindutva all these years, its leader never had problem interacting with a Muslim taking lead among the team of doctors treating him. Sanjay Raut, Saamna editor and spokesperson, had earlier stated that Sena never thought about these things. He had said, “...Balasaheb had immense faith in Dr Parkar”