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The Suffering of Bal Thackeray

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Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has given up drinking beer. He used to like it warm. He has given up white wine, and the pipe too. Meals are light to enable easy digestion. Due to a weak bladder, he has to be always close to a restroom. He needs help to walk and sit down. His daughter-in-law Smita Thackeray said in an earlier interview to Open that she is sad to see him like this. “After a certain age, everyone becomes like a child. I feel bad to see him so weakened,” she said.

On the day the Shiv Sena turned 43, the 83-year-old Thackeray, its founder, lay sedated on a hospital bed, strapped to sophisticated machines. Admitted to the Lilavati Hospital for a second time this year, sources say he is suffering from chest problems, piles, a heart ailment and is also given to bouts of depression. His weak lungs make him vulnerable to infections. Visitors have to take off their shoes and socks. Also, he cannot endure strong fragrances.

As Sainiks gathered in front of the hospital, Mumbai Police swung into action. Operations were personally supervised by joint commissioner of Police (Law and Order) KL Prasad. The State Reserve Police Force and the Rapid Action Force were also present near the hospital. Fearing an emotional backlash from Sainiks if Thackeray’s condition worsened, party executive president Uddhav kept the media updated (via SMS) on his father’s health. Bulletin boards were put up at all shakhas.

One could feel the fear within the hospital. “Whenever he is admitted here, we’re scared. The police have told us to ensure only filtered versions of health reports reach the media,” a hospital official said.