Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray remains in critical condition. While the Shiv Sena has claimed that the 86-year-old leader is fine and has been taken off life-support, the doctors have said that he is still on life support. This even as parts of the Maharashtra capital wore a deserted look on Thursday while there was a stream of visitors at Thackeray's residence 'Matoshree'.
Shiv Sena working president Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday night addressed the supporters reiterating that the health of Bal Thackeray was getting better. He asked the supporters to keep praying for the well-being of the Shiv Sena and remain "hopefull".
The ailing Shiv Sena chief, who is battling for life amidst prayers from his well wishers and supporters, was visited on Thursday by a steady stream of visitors. Those who went to 'Matoshree' included Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, Bollywood actor Salman Khan, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and industrialists Rahul Bajaj and Venugopal Dhoot. Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan had visited the Shiv Sena supremo on Wednesday night itself following the reports of his health condition deteriorating further.
Meanwhile, parts of the Maharashtra capital wore a deserted look with shops shut in important places like Dadar, Mahim and Bandra. Also, Shiv Sena workers asked the residents of Dadar, Mahim and Matunga to dismantle their Diwali lights. Most film and television shoots were also cancelled during the day.
There is heavy presence of police and rapid action force outside 'Matoshree' and other parts of Mumbai, and even the Union Home Ministry has provided additional security forces to Maharashtra to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order in the wake of critical health condition of Thackeray.
Paramilitary personnel have been provided following a request by the Maharashtra government which has beefed up security after Shiv Sainiks damaged some media vehicles and equipment on Wednesday, official sources said. The forces, which were in Maharashtra and supposed to proceed to Gujarat for deployment in next month's Assembly election, have been asked to stay back to help the Maharashtra government.
Earlier on Thursday, talking about the health condition of the 86-year-old leader, Shiv Sena legislator Subhash Desai had said that his response to treatment was good and was off the life-support system.
Talking to mediapersons outside 'Matoshree', Desai said, "The prayers of Shiv Sainiks and others who love Balasaheb and Shiv Sena are working. He is responding well to the treatment." However, the doctors attending the Shiv Sena chief said that Thackeray continued to be on life-support system and his condition still was critical.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said party chief Bal Thackeray was stable and doing well. "The condition of Bal Thackeray is stable, he is responding to the treatment, there is nothing to worry about," Raut said. He also said that the Shiv Sena supremo has been off life support since Thursday morning.
He also appealed to the Shiv Sena supporters to not panic. "There is no need to rush to Mumbai. As of now, Balasaheb is doing fine. There is no need to panic," Raut said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde, who visited Bal Thackeray's residence Matoshree on Thursday morning also said that the Shiv Sena chief was doing well. "I saw Balasaheb and also met Uddhav and the Thackeray family. Balasaheb is doing well," he said.
The police have also asked the owners of shops around Matoshree to close down their shops amidst reports of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray being critical. The leaves of all the policemen in Mumbai were cancelled as heavy security was deployed outside Thackeray's residence.
Several legislators and film personalities, including Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek visited Matoshree on Wednesday night to inquire about Thackeray's health.
Senior leader Ramdas Kadam, who was among others who rushed to see the ailing patriarch, had told reporters on Wednesday night that doctors were trying their level best to stabilise his condition. MNS chief Raj Thackeray and close family members were at 'Matoshree'.
Amitabh Bachchan who spent quite a few hours at Matoshree later tweeted that prayers were needed at this hour. "Balasaheb Thackeray : a fighter all his life, fights his life !! Prayers needed now! When I fought for my life after 'Coolie' accident, he came to visit me in hospital, with a cartoon he had drawn - Yamraj defeated ! Yamraj - God of Death, defeated by me..wish I was as proficient a cartoonist as he, for tonight I would wish to draw that for him (sic)," he tweeted.
Working President of the Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav Thackeray appealed for calm in his address to those assembled outside their residence. He said, "Balasaheb has strong will power. We will come out of this problem. Don't trust rumours. Make peace We are hopeful. You should be hopeful as well. Let's pray for Balasaheb."
This came after reports said that the Shiv Sena supremo was on continuous oxygen and not eating anything. "Bal Thackeray is not on ventilator, but is on continuous oxygen," his close source said on Tuesday. He said the 86-year-old Sena patriarch, who has been suffering from breathing problems, continues to be under medical supervision.
"His health is not so good. He is not eating anything," he said. A number of leaders including former President Pratibha Patil have visited Thackeray's residence 'Matoshree' over the past few days to enquire about his health. Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee has cancelled his trip to Mumbai amidst reports of Bal Thackeray's deteriorating health.
(With additional information from PTI and IANS)