the truck carrying a massive poster of Thackeray against the image of the tiger, the Sena’s symbol, was MNS boss Raj Thackeray, who chose to walk some distance with the mourners before leaving to take care of arrangements for the funeral at Shivaji Park.
As the procession inched towards Shiv Sena Bhavan, the party headquarters, tens of thousands of supporters and onlookers lined the streets, balconies and flyovers, with many clambering atop lamp posts and trees to get a glimpse. Many showered the mourners with flower petals.
The cortege made a brief halt at the headquarters, built by Thackeray in 1977, where his body was kept for top party leaders to pay homage. It was out of bounds for the common Sena workers.
The pyre was erected on a platform at the very place from where Thackeray addressed Sena workers during his famous Dussehra rallies and where he delivered his first speech to his rabble-rousing supporters after the launch of the party on June 19, 1966.
The doctors who made a failed attempt to save Thackeray’s life and who looked after him for years were the first to pay floral tributes to him when his body draped in the national flag and sporting a red Tilak and his trademark dark glasses was kept on a stage before the final rites were performed.
Thackeray’s servant Thapa stood along with Uddhav and Raj, Sena patriarch’s estranged son Jaidev and grandsons. Raj, who had walked out of Shiv Sena after Thackeray anointed Uddhav his successor in 2004, broke down when the pyre was lit.
Suffering from respiratory and pancreatic problems, Thackeray passed away on Saturday, losing a four-day battle for life.