During the cremation of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, his son Uddhav asked Champasingh Thapa, his father's assistant who followed him like a shadow for years, to participate in the last rites.
Thapa, who has been associated with Thackeray for the last three decades, is treated as a member of the Thackeray household. Right from morning till midnight, it was Thapa who took care of the Sena chief and accompanied him everywhere -at home, party meetings and election tours. In Sena circles, he was referred to as Thackeray's shadow.
A Sena leader says that Thackeray trusted Thapa a lot and shared all his views with him. Thapa's responsibilities increased after the death of Thackeray's wife Meenatai in 1996 and he took care of all of his master's needs -- from meals to medicines.
Thapa, who hails from Nepal, is married with four children - three sons and a daughter. Though he used to visit his native place annually, this was reduced once in two years in recent times due to the Sena chief's deteriorating health. He stays at Matoshree beside the room of Bal Thackeray and is said to be fluent in Marathi.
Instrumental in starting the Nepal unit of the Shiv Sena, he makes it a point to attend to the unit's requirements. Thapa, who is very popular among his natives, is invited regularly to grace their functions and is treated as a celebrity by them due to his proximity to Bal Thackeray.