However, the party never came to power on its own or with its ally BJP. The closest it came to power was after the 2007 PMC polls when the Sena formed the Pune-Pattern by joining hands with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP. But Sena’s tryst with power remained short-lived as NCP went back to Congress after Sena decided to break off ties with it.
“In his speech in 2002, he had exhorted the Puneites to give Sena a chance to serve them in the PMC with full majority,” said Ramesh Bodke, a senior Sena leader from the city. Bodke quotes Thackeray: “Don’t give us a half (ardhavat) rule. Give me a chance and I will change the face of the city. We have been ruling Mumbai for quite a long time but nature of the city is such that there’s not much scope left to change in Mumbai. But in Pune a lot of things can be done. Give us a change.”
Bodke also recalls Thackeray’s love for the city. He would visit authors such as Ram Nagarkar, Vasant Vaidya and Shivaji Sawant.
“In 1978, Sawant, author of Mrityunjaya, met with an accident and he wasn’t doing financially too well. Balasaheb was very fond of him. He visited him convinced him to accompany him to Mumbai for treatment. I was personally asked to ferry Sawant to Mumbai which I did. And he was admitted to Jaslok Hospital where he underwent treatment for a month and the expenditure was borne by Balasaheb.”
There are other leaders in the city who recall how Sena supremo loved Biryani from Dorabjee Restaurant in Pune Camp and used to ask somebody to get a parcel for him every time he visited the city. “Without fail, he used to ask for a kam-tikha and kam-namak biryani from Dorabjee,” said a Sena member.
His last visit to the city was in November 2011 when he came to meet cartoonist R K Laxman. Shyam Deshpande, Shiv Sena group leader in PMC, said, “Uddhavji introduced all of us to him. Saheb recognised my name immediately saying he had read about me in newspapers. He said I was dong well by taking up issues relevant for citizens. His praise was the biggest reward for me,” he said.