Modi greets Bal Thackeray on birthday

Mumbai: Greeting Bal Thackeray on his birthday today, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has described the Shiv Sena chief as a `straightforward` leader. "Balasaheb is a straightforward leader… He always fought for Hindutva," Sena mouthpiece `Saamana` quoted Modi as saying.

"A personality like his comes once in a century," Modi said, on the occasion of Thackeray turning 86 today. "He gave all in the national interest and ruled people`s hearts," the CM said.

The Sena chief`s birthday was celebrated with enthusiasm with thousands of activists across the state visiting his residence Matoshri in suburban Bandra. A `rudrakshtula` of Thackeray was performed by the Nepali Shramik Mazdoor Union. The `rudraksh` were later given to those gathered. At the Juhu beach, sculptor Lakshmi Kamble made a sand portrait of the Sena patriarch, drawing a throng of admirers.

In a message to supporters, Thackeray said he would not be able to meet them like he did in the past. "Then, meeting you was my tonic. It still is. However, I don`t have the same strength I had earlier," he said.

Talking to reporters at Matoshri, Thackeray replied to queries on his praise by Modi. "How do I know why he praised me? Ask him, why he praised me," he said. "Or is it a paid news like there is paid news in media," he quipped.

Reacting to remarks by estranged nepwhew, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, that Sena had lost people`s support, the Sena chief said, "does he (Raj) have a machine to monitor people`s minds?"

Meanwhile, in an editorial in `Saamana`, Thackeray flayed party`s Lok Sabha member from Kalyan, Anand Paranjpe, who has all but joined NCP. "There is no place in history for traitors," he said.