‘He was fiery, formidable, but funny too...’
She adds: "Before the Sena was established, he used to reside in a much smaller bungalow in Dadar, where we had gone quite a few times. Then the Sena chief moved in to his present residence in Kalanagar, which was much smaller in the beginning and was later renovated and expanded to the bungalow which is now called Matoshree."
The first time Balasaheb visited their residence in Shimpi Ali in Kasba Peth was in 1964 when Vadke had invited him to inaugurate a Ganpati Exhibition organised by his trust. "He came and had food here," says Snehalata, pointing to a space in her living room.
The affection between the two families has continued in the next generations. While Raj used to accompany Balasaheb whenever he visited the Vadke residence, Uddhav also makes it a point to drop by if he is in the city.
"Balasaheb's last visit to the family was when Kaka Saheb passed away in 2000. For the last few years, Balsasaheb had also not been keeping well. Besides, there were security issues, which was why his visit to the family never materialised. Many a times Uddhav and Raj have come on their own. Soon after Minatai's (Thackeray's wife) demise, Uddhav was in the city. He told Kaka that he would come to have biryani with the family. So the bond of love continues," said Senhalata.
Bhalchandra Vadke, Kakasaheb's nephew, adds, "While leaving, Uddhav touched Kaka's feet. Kaka tried to stop him, arguing that Uddhav was a big leader while he was an ordinary party worker. But Uddhav said he called him Kaka (uncle) and thus had every right to touch his feet."
Unbiased analysis of Balasaheb did not happen: Gorhe
"The Hindutva that Balasaheb founded Shiv Sena on, was not narrow- minded. It was modern, all-inclusive Hindutva. Uddhav Thackeray with his management skills and networking abilities will carry forward that legacy to give a national appeal to this concept of Hindutva," said Neelam Gorhe, MLC and Shiv Sena spokesperson.