Bal Thackeray
Bal Thackeray
File Photo

The 95th birth anniversary of one of Maharashtra’s most recognisable and influential figures, Bal Thackeray, will be observed today.

Born on January 23, 1926, Bal Keshav Thackeray, popularly known as Balasaheb Thackeray, was the founder of the political party Shiv Sena. A charismatic and powerful leader, Thackeray began his professional career as a cartoonist with the English daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, but left it in 1960 to launch his own political weekly Marmik.

He later quit his job and founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 to advocate the interests of the people of Maharashtra in Mumbai's political and professional landscape. His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father, Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, a leading figure in the Samyukta Maharashtra (United Maharashtra) movement, which advocated the creation of a separate semantic state.

Through Marmik, Thackeray campaigned against the growing influence of non-Marathis in Mumbai. He was also the founder of the Marathi newspaper Saamana.

Thackeray did not hold official positions during his political career. He breathed his last on November 17, 2012, after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 86.

On his 95th birth anniversary, let us take a look at some of his cartoons—some even echoing the current turmoil in our nation today, perhaps—that were published in The Free Press Journal during the period 1940–1960.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

In this cartoon, Thackeray is showing how ministers contradict themselves when it comes to tax evasion. It was published in The Free Press Journal on July 19, 1957.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

Published in The Free Press Journal on December 28, 1956, here, Thackeray is showing that to catch tax evaders, the government needs a plan in place.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

Thackeray’s depiction of the Kashmir problem—this cartoon was published in The Free Press Journal on June 2, 1955.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

In this cartoon, Thackeray is showing how political parties work during elections. It was published in The Free Press Journal on April 16, 1955.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

Thackeray shows a typical assembly debate politicians engage in during every session. This cartoon was published in The Free Press Journal on September 17, 1954.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

Here, Thackeray tries to capture the essence of Indo-China relations. This cartoon was published in The Free Press Journal on October 6, 1959.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

Thackeray’s portrayal of the Indo-China border conflict was published in The Free Press Journal on September 11, 1959.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

Thackeray interpreting India’s biggest problem: Inflation. This cartoon was published in The Free Press Journal on November 29, 1948.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

In this cartoon, Thackeray is depicting Kashmir’s ceasefire agreement. It was published in The Free Press Journal on September 6, 1949.

Bal Thackeray birth anniversary: Shiv Sena supremo's exclusive cartoons for FPJ — Witty, Classy, Timeless

This cartoon was Thackeray taking on the Times of India for sidelining other newspapers in 1953. It was published in The Free Press Journal April 4, 1953.

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