After members of extended family, Bal Thackeray’s caregiver ditches Sena

He was Bal Thackeray’s caregiver for close to two decades and is said to have started a chapter of the Shiv Sena in Nepal. In a public relations boost for the Shiv Sena rebels led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Champasingh Thapa joined their faction along with the Sena founder’s former personal assistant Moreshwar Raje on Monday. Earlier, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s nephew and a sister-in-law had called on the CM.

Thapa looked after Bal Thackeray till his death in 2012 and later went to his home in the city’s suburbs. He subsequently moved back to his hometown in Nepal. A close associate of the Thackeray family said, “He came to Matoshree (the Thackeray family’s residence) in the early 1990s. When Balasaheb was alive, Thapa also started the Nepali wing of the Shiv Sena.”

Thapa used to accompany Thackeray to meetings, made calls to party functionaries, gave food to the Sena founder and did all sorts of odd jobs for the family. After the death of Thackeray’s wife Meenatai in the 1990s, he became the Sena leader’s primary caregiver.

Raje, Sena insiders said, had been removed many years back and used to often visit Maharastra Navnirma Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and other leaders for help. “I can understand if elected representatives go (to the Shinde faction) but even a caregiver and a personal assistant are being lured. We need to find if there is any pressure or threat or consideration given. Even Balasaheb’s caregiver has not been spared and there is a desperate attempt to show that the Shinde faction is the real Shiv Sena.”

Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai said the move is an attempt to show the Thackeray family in poor light. “I remember that Thapa took good care when Balasaheb was operated on in Hinduja Hospital in the 1990s for blockages in his heart.”

With some in the Shiv Sena insinuating that Thapa might have joined the Shinde group for money, Shinde faction spokesperson Naresh Mhaske said, “Thapa served Balasaheb and followed him like a shadow. It is not just Thapa who supported Shinde saheb. Even the families of Balasaheb’s sons — the late Bindumadhav Thackeray and Jayadev Thackeray — have supported Shinde saheb. If Sena MP Arvind Sawant has said that Thapa was only a dog walker, he must explain what his views on the families of Bindumadhav and Jayadev Thackeray are because they have also supported the Shinde faction.”

Soon after the split in the Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray’s grandson and Bindumadhav’s son Nihar called on Shinde. Nihar, who is a lawyer, is married to BJP leader Harshavardhan Patil’s daughter. Bindumadhav died in a car accident in Lonavala in 1996. A few days after the meeting between Shinde and Nihar, Jayadev’s second wife Smita Thackeray called on the CM. She had major differences with Uddhav Thackeray and was closer to the Sena leader’s rivals Raj and Narayan Rane, according to insiders.

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