After a gap of over eight years, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray on Monday exercised his franchise.
Thackeray had been banned from exercising his franchise in the late nineties for six years as he was found to be "indulging in corrupt practice by seeking votes in the name of religion" at a public rally. As the ban period had expired in December 2001, he cast his votes.
The supremo, in an election campaign meeting for Shiv Sena candidate Ramesh Prabhu, sought votes from the people in the name of religion. Prabhu had contested state assembly polls from Santacruz against Prabhakar Kunte of Congress.
Kunte, who lost the assembly seat, had filed an election petition in Bombay High Court which set aside Prabhu's election on the ground that Thackeray had sought votes on religious issues and thereby committed corrupt practice under provisions of Representation of People's Act.
Prabhu filed an appeal in the Supreme Court which upheld the High Court judgement and ordered the Election Commission to ban Thackeray for six years from casting vote.
The Shiv Sena supremo cast his votes at Municipal High School in suburban Bandra today for the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra.
He was accompanied by his son, Uddhav Thackeray, who is also the Executive President of Shiv Sena. A large number of party workers were present outside the polling booth to greet their leaders as they arrived to cast their ballot.
Thackeray's nephew and Shiv Sena youth leader Raj Thackeray also cast his ballot at Bal Mohan Vidya Mandir at Shivaji Park near his residence. Raj, who was accompanied by his wife and mother, stood in a long queue before casting their ballots.