Leaders across the political spectrum today condoled the death of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as a "consummate communicator" whose stature in Maharashtra politics was "unique".
President Pranab Mukherjee said the nation has lost a veteran leader who worked to help the common man and whose contributions in the field of media added a different perspective to the political discourse.
The death was also condoled by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.
Prime Minister Singh, who called up Thackeray's son Uddhav, appealed to the people to maintain calm and sobriety.
Singh said the interests of Maharashtra were "particulary important" for Thackeray and "he always strived to inculcate a sense of pride in its people."
"He founded Shiv Sena and built the party into a formidable force in the state politics with his strong leadership. The passing away of Balasaheb will be deeply felt by his family and his followers," he said.
The Prime Minister described Thackeray as a "consummate communicator, whose stature in the politics of Maharashtra was unique."
Advani said Thackeray's death has left a "gaping void" in the country's politics which "cannot be filled".
"It is rare that I have seen in these 65 years of independent India a political leader who has left such a deep and abiding imprint on the country's events as Balasaheb Thackeray. Uncompromising in his patriotism, he possessed remarkable qualities of leadership and abundance of attributes of head and heart," Advani said.
Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter "I am terribly pained to hear that the Lion is dead."
She said he was never deterred by any opposition. "His persona was as high and firm as the Himalayas. His death is an irreparable loss to the country. His departure has left a void which will never be filled."
Swaraj's counterpart in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said Thackeray "was one of the most charismatic leaders of his generation and was uncompromising in his principles."
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Thackeray, as a cartoonist, arrived on the scene like a storm after the collapse of communists in Mumbai and took forward the legacy of his reformist father, `Prabodhankar' Thacke.
Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar said described Thackeray as a "magnanimous" person who was ready "to pay any political price" for his stands.
"Fierce pride about Maharashtra, willingness to pay any price for the interest of Marathi language, Maharashtrians, but at the same time the readiness to contribute on Maharashtra's behalf for the sake of the country, these were the hallmarks of Balasaheb," Pawar said.
Acknowledging differences with Thackeray, Pawar however said "when there were national-level problems, he had the capability to take a generous stand. No other leader in the country had this power."
DMK chief M Karunanidhi said Thackeray's "love and simplicity during his Chennai visit impressed me a lot".
Thackeray was a person who would not come forward to compromise on the welfare of people from his state, Karunanidhi said.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Thackeray's death, the country had lost a leader whose contribution in giving distinct identities to regional parties would be remembered by all.
He inculcated a sense of patriotism among the youth by communicating with them in their dialect, Badal said.
Mourning Thackeray's death, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said he had dedicated his entire life for the people.
Senior BJP leader and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri said "Thackeray's death is a great loss not only for Maharashtra but also for the entire nation."
Another former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pokhriyal Nishank said "in his death the country has lost a tall leader who left a lasting impact on the politics of both Maharashtra and the nation."
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan assembly Vasundhra Raje said "Thackeray's demise is a great loss to the nation. We have lost a great personality."
VHP national spokesman Prakash Sharma said the void created by Thackeray's death would be difficult to fill.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda said the country had lost a "keen nationalist leader" in Thackeray's death.
In a condolence message, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal described Thackeray as a real leader of the masses who worked relentlessly to safeguard the rights of Maharashtrians till his last breath.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also mourned the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
Noted actor Rajinikanth said "Thackeray was a great leader and a father figure to many including me. This is a great loss to all."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled the death of Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray saying he dominated Maharashtra politics during his long political career.
"He dominated Maharashtra politics for a long period and many of his observations raised controversies," Banerjee said in her condolence message.
She conveyed her condolences to the members of the bereaved family.
Later, Banerjee, in a Facebook post, said "though I did not get an opportunity to interact with him (Bal Thackeray) personally, yet I found him as a person of exceptional organizational qualities.
"He played a major role in Indian politics for a long time. I express my heartfelt condolences to the members of his bereaved family and followers. May the departed soul rest in peace", she said.
Lost a magnanimous friend: Sharad Pawar
Saying that he had loss a "dear friend" in Bal Thackeray's death, Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar today described the Shiv Sena supremo as a "magnanimous" leader who was ready "to pay any political price" for his stand.
"Fierce pride about Maharashtra, willingness to pay any price for the interest of Marathi language, Maharashtrians, but at the same time the readiness to contribute on
Maharashtra's behalf for the sake of the country, these were the hallmarks of Balasaheb," Pawar told reporters while paying his tributes to Thackery, leader of NCP's political foe Shiv Sena.
"Regarding issues of Mumbai, Marathis, we were sometimes at conflict. We were friends, but at such times he did not cut down on his trademark 'Thackeray' language while criticising us, and we too paid back," said Pawar.
"We had differences, but when there were national-level problems, he had the capability to take a generous stand. No other leader in the country had this power. He supported Emergency, saying the era of discipline was good, and did not field a single candidate in the elections that followed when (Congress leader) A R Antulay requested him."
Pawar also recalled that Thackeray had backed Pratibha Patil, a Congress candidate, for President's post, breaking ranks with NDA and this time around when he took Pranab Mukherjee to Thackeray's residence before the presidential election, the Sena supremo unequivocally said he would support Mukherjee because he was a cultured and experienced leader.
"He never bothered about others opposing this move. It was courageous," Pawar said.
Talking about the personal relations, Pawar reminisced that when NCP decided to field his daughter Supriya Sule for Rajya Sabha, he did not discuss it with Thackeray, as Sena-BJP had their own candidate.
"He called me....He used to call me `Sharad-babu'. He said, `Sharad-babu, why didn't you tell me? She (Supriya) had been coming to our house since she was six months old...she had played with my kids, had sat in my wife's arms. Now she is making her parliamentary debut, and you did not tell me. I did not like this at all."
"I said I did not tell you because Sena-BJP has their own candidate. He said: `There would be no Sena-BJP candidate'.
"He was ready to pay the political price for this love.... We were lucky to have such a magnanimous friend," Pawar added.
Condoling Thackeray's death, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said "Maharashtra has lost one of its greatest and charismatic leaders. My prayers are with his bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace."
Thackeray had a special place in Maharashtra politics : Nitish
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today paid tribute to the Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray who died in Mumbai this afternoon after prolonged illness.
"A political era in Maharashtra politics has come to an end after the passing away of the Octogenerian Shiv Sena leader," Kumar said in a condolence message.
Thackeray had a special place in the political annals in Maharashtra, he said.
The RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi also mourned the death of the Shiv Sena leader.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, the state unit BJP president C P Thakur and other party leaders have also mourned Thackeray's demise.
Karunanidhi condoles Bal Thackeray's death
DMK chief M Karunanidhi today condoled the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray Recalling his meeting with Thackeray during one of his visits to Mumbai, Karunanidhi said "he came to Hotel Oberai, where I was staying and had a long conversation. Though we had differences of opinion, his love and simplicity during his visit impressed me a lot," Krunanidhi said.
Thackeray was a person who would not come forward to compromise on the welfare of people from his state and, Karunanidhi said, adding, "his son Uddhav Thackeray, who is grieved by his father's loss is leading the movement efficiently in his father's footsteps. I extend my deepest condolences to Thackeray's family and friends of the Shiv Sena."
Thackeray (86), who was critically ill for the past few days, died at his residence in Mumbai today.