Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray turned 80 on Tuesday.
The party supremo has appealed to his followers not to throng to Matoshree -- his high-security residence in Bandra East, in north-west Mumbai -- to greet him on his birthday. The reason -- 'anti-social elements can get into the crowd and pose a security threat,' Thackeray said in a statement issued in the party mouthpiece Saamna. Party workers, who wanted to wish Thackeray, have been instructed to deposit the amount that they would have spent on flowers or garlands in an envelope at 'Matoshree' as a donation.
On the occasion, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray told rediff.com, "As a father, Balasaheb Thackeray is everything for me. He has been an understanding father. He always let us did whatever we wanted to do in life. When he felt that we were not doing something right in our lives he used to just keep quiet.
"He has never raised his hands on me. This is not the case only with me, also my two other brothers -- Jaidev and Bindu Madhav Thackeray. When we were growing up and used to make some mistakes he never scolded us. This was his way to express the fact that he is not happy with the way things were going in our lives.
"At heart, he is a soft person. Even when Raj Thackeray and Narayan Rane quit the Shiv Sena, he kept quiet and only recently expressed his views through newspaper interviews with Saamna.
"As a leader, he is the only 'sarkar' to me and to all other Shiv Sainiks. I always feel that he is a much better leader than me. I have pledged that the Sena will win maximum number of seats in the forthcoming municipal elections in Maharashtra. I have promised to gift him the post of mayor of all these cities as a birthday bouquet to him in February when election results will be announced," he said.
Thackeray will spend the day at his residence with family members, party sources said, adding that he would not be meeting workers as he has been doing for the past 40 years. Traditionally, Sainiks have celebrated Thackeray's birthday with great enthusiasm and had thronged 'Matoshree' to meet him.
Uddhav and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde will present to him the joint manifesto of the saffron combine for the February one Mumbai civic body polls before releasing it at the Sena headquarters in Dadar later in the day.
Thackeray, the cartoonist-turned-politician who founded Sena 40 years ago, used to address party workers himself on his birthday. Last year, Thackeray broke another tradition by cancelling the Sena's annual rally on Dussehra, a public meeting he had been addressing for the last 39 years.
The Sena patriarch, whose party is facing a major electoral battle in the civic polls, especially in Mumbai, has said time and again that his health was not the same as before and that he would cut down on his public appearances.