Shiv Sainiks, including octogenarians, prayed for their chief Bal Thackeray’s speedy recovery on Thursday even as party workers and also those of the breakaway Maharashtra Navnirman Sena across Maharashtra trooped towards Matoshree, his residence.
The Sainiks indulged in sloganeering, hailing their leader. Rajendra Raut, a Sena leader from Ghatkopar, said they were hopeful of recovery. “We do not believe any rumours. We are very hopeful that our Balasaheb recovers fully.”
Raut said he and his colleagues in Ghatkopar organised a ‘Maha Mrutunjay jap’ for the ailing leader, a prayer to ward off death. The scene outside Matoshree was tense.
One estimate said at least 5,000 Sena members were outside Kala Nagar in Bandra(E), where Matoshree is located, on Wednesday night as news of Thackeray’s ill health spread. The police formed a security cordon around the place on Thursday.
There was a high number of traffic police persons at the generally busy Kala Nagar junction on Thursday.
An MNS activist from Parel, the Sena’s stronghold, said: “Our leader, Rajsaheb, worships Balasaheb and so do we. While we may be in a different party now, it’s still Shiv Sena’s blood which flows in our veins.”
Bhagvan Valhekar, the city head of the Sena in Pimpari-Chinchwad, said: “When we heard last night that Balasaheb’s heath was critical, we couldn’t stop ourselves and rushed to Mumbai.”
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), controlled by the Sena-BJP, has provided water tankers for the people.