Mumbai, Nov.18 (ANI): Eminent political leaders, Bollywood stars and other distinguished personalities arrived at Mumbai's Shivaji Park on Sunday to pay their last respects to Shiv Sena patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray, a day after he expired from multiple organ failure and cardiac arrest.
The last rites of the late leader will take place at 6 p.m. this evening.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Congress leader and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajeev Shukla, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, senior leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Menaka Gandhi were all at the funeral venue to pay homage to the deceased leader.
National Congress Party (NCP) president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Sule and Union Minister for Heavy Industries Praful Patel were also present.
Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Nana Patekar and Ritiesh Deshmukh, film director and actor Mahesh Manjrekar and industrialist Anil Ambani were also among the VIPs present in Shivaji Park when the funeral cortege had arrived. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was also present.
Earlier, the body of 86-year-old Balasaheb Thackeray was taken out of his residence 'Matoshree' in subruban Bandra for the last time this morning in a hearse adorned with flowers in the presence of weeping and anguished Shiv Sena supporters, besides other residents of Mumbai and Maharashtra who had come to see Thackeray as their iconic hero and leader.
The last rites will be performed with full state honours in Shivaji Park, the place from where the Shiv Sena was formally launched in 1966, and was often used as the venue to vitriocally highlight Thackeray's views on what was going wrong with the country and its leaders.
Several Shiv Sena leaders like Manohar Joshi, Diwakar Raote, Sanjay Raut, Neelam Gorhe, Vinayak Raut, Anil Desai and Subhash Desai, accompanied the bereaved members of theThackeray family during the last journey of their patriarch and leader.
Thackeray's body has been placed on a flower decked bier, and his son Uddhav Thackeray is expected to perform the last rights and light the pyre at 6 p.m.(ANI)