Mumbai: Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray continues to be in a critical condition, his doctors said even as the Shiv Sena continued to say he was stable. His son and the party's working president Uddhav Thackeray, in another late night appearance on Thursday, reassured the Shiv Sainiks and the waiting media that Bal Thackeray is stable. He urged his partymen to pray for their leader's health.
"Our feelings and wishes for him are the same. His condition has been stable since Wednesday. His treatment is underway. I repeat what I said on Wednesday that we will not give up. The power of our prayers will help him recover. Let's continue praying for him. I have full faith that he will recover," Uddhav Thackeray said.
Earlier on Thursday the who's who of Mumbai queued up to call on the Shiv Sena supremo. 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'.
Among the visitors were Union minister Sharad Pawar, BJP President Nitin Gadkari, actor Salman Khan and members of the Kapoor family. Also marking their presence were industrialists Rahul Bajaj and Venugopal Dhoot. Amitabh Bachchan visted Matoshree again on Thursday evening.
Amitabh Bachchan who had spent quite a few hours at Matoshree on Wednesday 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.
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. Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee also cancelled his trip to Mumbai amidst reports of Bal Thackeray's deteriorating health.
(With additional information from PTI and IANS)