Mumbai: For the first time, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party paid homage to the founder of the Shiv Sena, the late Bal Thackeray on his seventh death anniversary and later the Bharatiya Janata Party also joined in, here on Sunday.
The day started with thousands of Shiv Sainiks coming from across Maharashtra and queuing up at 'Shivtirth' for their turn to offer tributes to the charismatic and firebrand leader who passed away on this day in 2012.
Later, NCP state president Jayant Patil, former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal and party MLA Jitendra Awhad reached Shivaji Park, where the 'Shivtirth' is located, and paid their respects.
An erstwhile close confidante of the late leader, Bhujbal was seen getting emotional and later recalled the relationship he enjoyed with the late Thackeray.
NCP president Sharad Pawar, who is in Pune, paid rich tributes to the leader, describing him as a person who kindled pride in the Marathi 'manoos', was known for his courageous personality through which he gave a direction to society and politics.
Congress leaders, including Bhai Jagtap, came and paid homage and recalled his services to the state and people of Maharashtra.
Subsequently, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi, other family members and top party leaders entered Shivaji Park and offered floral tributes and paid homage.
Sometime later, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his former ministerial colleagues Vinod Tawade and Pankaja Munde also paid floral tributes. However, they stayed away from the 'Shivtirth' statue where Sena leaders, including Uddhav Thackeray, were present and left soon after paying their homage.
The Sena and BJP had contested the October Assembly polls together and jointly won 161 seats, before Uddhav's party started insisting on equal sharing of the chief ministerial tenure that led to acrimony and stalemate in government formation.
Following weeks of bitter political drama, the Sena is currently in the process of forming a non-BJP government with support from Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
The Congress-NCP are currently providing final touches to the proposed alliance with the Sena with a meeting between their top leaders — Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar — scheduled in New Delhi on Monday.
Signalling a formal split, the Sena stayed away a crucial NDA meet, while the party's three MPs have been given a new seating arrangement in the Rajya Sabha for the Parliament session starting on Monday.