Advani, Sushma, Gadkari to attend Bal Thackeray's funeral
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L.K Advani, Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj will attend Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's funeral in Mumbai today.
"I am going to Mumbai to pay tribute to him. He was our guide and inspiration and was the head of our political family of BJP and Shiv Sena. After his demise both our political parties have been severely dented. We will always keep remembering him," Gadkari told media here.
"I have been in mourning since yesterday because today I had an appointment to meet Bal Thackeray, we were supposed to meet at noon and I had booked a morning flight to Mumbai. At that time I could have never imagined that yesterday at 3:30 in the afternoon I would get the news of his demise. This was shocking news for me, the news that pained and shocked me," said Swaraj.
Thackeray's body will be kept at Mumbai's Shivaji Park till 5 p.m for people to pay their respects. His last rites will be performed at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will be unable to attend Thackeray's funeral as he would have to stay in Delhi due to work exigency.
An order was issued recently that in absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from Delhi due to his foreign visit, either Defence Minister, Finance Minister or Home Minister will stay in Delhi, official sources said.
As the other two will not be in Delhi today, Shinde will have to stay in Delhi and will not be able to attend Thackeray's funeral.
Earlier, condoling the demise of Balasaheb, Shinde said the Shiv Sena chief was a brave leader who remained honest to his principles till his last breath.
"Despite being the leader of the opposition party, he always supported me when I was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He always encouraged me whenever I initiated a good work during my tenure," said Shinde.
Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray, who was critically ill for the past few days, passed away at his residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra on Saturday. He was 86.
Thackeray had been suffering from respiratory problems and pancreatic disease.
He is survived by sons Jaidev and Uddhav, who is the Executive President of the party.