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Bal Keshav Thackeray[1] ([ʈʰakəɾe]; born 23 January 1926[1]), popularly known as Hinduhriday Samraat Balasaheb Thackeray, is an Indian politician, founder and chief of the Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, and Marathi ethnocentric party active mainly in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

Born in Pune, Thackeray began his professional career as a cartoonist with the English language daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai but left it in 1960 to form his own political weekly Marmik. His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, a leading figure in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement (United Maharashtra movement), which advocated the creation of a separate linguistic state of Maharashtra. Through Marmik, he campaigned against the growing influence of Gujaratis, Marwaris, and southern Indians in Mumbai.[1] In 1966, Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena party to advocate more strongly the place of Maharashtrians in Mumbai's political and professional landscape. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Thackeray built the party by forming temporary alliances with nearly all of Maharashtra's political parties.[3]

A controversial figure, Thackeray has attracted significant attention by making statements expressing admiration for Hitler as an artist and demagogue while condemning the Holocaust, inciting violence against Muslims, expressing support for the LTTE, and taking strong stances on the aspects of popular culture, including fervent opposition to the celebration of Valentine's Day