Amateur cartoonist turned politician many love to hate (Raj Thackeray profile)

October 21st, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj ThackerayMumbai, Oct 21 (IANS) Raj S. Thackeray, like his estranged uncle Bal Thackeray, loved to draw cartoons before he became a favourite of cartoonists.
Born June 14, 1968 to Shrikant and Kunda Thackeray - brother and sister, respectively, of Bal Thackeray and his wife Meenatai, he was educated at the famed Bal Mohan Vidya Mandir School in the central Mumbai suburb of Dadar, close to his residence in Shivaji Park.

Raj’s father was a musician and made a couple of Marathi films. Raj is married to Sharmila, daughter of famous Marathi theatre/films actor, producer-director Mohan Wagh.

At a young age, he started his political career in the Shiv Sena under the able tutelage of his uncle and was quickly noticed for his mannerisms and oratory style, which reminded many of Bal Thackeray.

He set up a party-affiliated organization, the Shiv Udyog Sena (SUS), to give self-employment loans to jobless Marathi youth.

The new body received funds from pop star Michael Jackson’s first show in India at the Mumbai Andheri Sports Complex in 1996. It, however, failed to pick up after a high-profile start.

The young leader enjoyed very cordial relations with the Thackerays, but fell out after Thackeray senior anointed his son Udhav as the party’s executive president, bypassing Raj.

He quit Shiv Sena in a huff in 2005, alleging that Udhav and his cohorts had ruined the party, and set up the MNS the following year.

He managed to attract a lot of rebel leaders from various political parties, mainly the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and also the Congress - the last two presently ruling Maharashtra in a coalition.

The MNS tasted minor electoral successes in various municipal elections held in early 2007 including the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

He, however, needed to do more to come up in Maharashtra politics.

He hijacked the Shiv Sena’s anti-north Indian plank with considerable success.

Earlier this year, he was noticed at the national level when he attacked the family of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and the Samajwadi Party. After his fiery speeches, north Indians in the state were attacked allegedly by MNS supporters in February and now again in October.

Raj had been arrested Feb 13 and let off on bail. He was again arrested early Tuesday morning from Ratnagiri, was brought before a Mumbai court, which granted his judicial custody in one case even as it let him off on bail in another.

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