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Thackeray's condition improving: Uddhav

Mumbai: Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said late on Thursday that his ailing father and party chief Bal Thackeray's condition was 'stable'. Restive crowds thronged his residence Matoshri and parts of the city remained closed during the day.

"He is stable and we are doing everything we can...His health is improving...He is better than Wednesday...We have still not given up hopes," Uddhav declared before a large crowd of activists and media persons outside the family residence Matoshri in Bandra east around 11 pm. "We are all praying for him, and it is the strength of our prayers that will see him through this crisis," Uddhav said, in his fourth media appearance in the past 20 hours.

Earlier in the day, other party leaders also made similar statements about 86 year old leader's health condition. "We appeal to all to remain calm and pray for him. We are grateful for the prayers and support of millions of Thackeray's admirers and supporters all over India," party leader Subhash Desai said in the evening. He told reporters that a team of doctors was constantly attending on Thackeray and his condition was "gradually improving".

Other leaders, including Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, also Thackeray's nephew, assured the people that his condition was "stabilising"."I am appealing to workers to disperse. He is absolutely stable," Raut said. A steady stream of VVIPs, industrialists and glamour world personalities continued to visit the Thackeray residence. Amongst them were Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister R.R. Patil, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.

Glamour world personalities like Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek, Rishi Kapoor with brother Randhir, Salim Khan and son Salman Khan, Manoj Kumar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Bappi Lahiri, industrialists V.N. Dhoot, Rahul Bajaj and others visited Matoshri to enquire about Thackeray's delicate health. Following the positive announcements made by several leaders, Mumbaikars relaxed though crowds of supporters continued to throng Bandra East and the entire area remained under a security blanket.

Early this morning, around 2 am., Uddhav Thackeray made repeated appeals to the people to "maintain peace and remain calm". He had come out to address the swelling crowds, after news spread that Balasaheb's condition was critical, and said: "I have not lost hope. We are facing a crisis, we shall overcome."Thackeray has been under the care of a team of specialists from Lilavati Hospital, Bandra West, at his home. According to party leaders, a virtual ICU had been created at Matoshri with all emergency equipment and medical staff on duty round the clock.

The chief minister is understood to have discussed the security arrangements in Mumbai and the rest of the state with police and civil officials in the afternoon. Mumbai Police and other security agencies have made heavy security arrangements outside Matoshri and in large parts of Bandra East, barely a stone's throw away from the CBD, Bandra; Kurla Complex, which also houses the US Consulate and the British Deputy High Commission. Over 350 police personnel, Rapid Action Force and other contingents led by senior officers have deployed security in the vicinity to prevent any untoward incidents.

Notwithstanding the security, tension spread. There were reports that all shootings in Goregaon Film City had stopped and some theatres had stopped movie screenings. Large parts of Mumbai and suburbs remained closed for businesses as news of Thackeray's delicate health spread on Thursday morning. Shiv Sena bastions like Bandra, Dadar and other parts remained virtually deserted as people preferred to remain indoors and catch the latest on Thackeray's health through the media.

(Agencies)

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