Raj Shrikant Thackeray
Personal lifeRaj Thackeray was born on June 14,With The Name Swaraj Thackeray in 1968 in a Marathi Kayastha (CKP) family to Shrikant Keshav Thackeray and Kunda Thackeray, Shrikant Thackeray was the younger brother of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and Raj's mother Kunda Thackeray is the younger sister of Balasaheb Thackeray's wife Meena Thackeray. Raj's father Shrikant Thackeray was a musician, cartoonist and was also well versed in the language of Urdu. He also made a couple of Marathi films. Raj is married to Sharmila, daughter of famous Marathi theater/films actor, producer-director Mohan Wagh. They have one son named Amit Thackeray and one daughter Urvashi.
Raj Thackeray did his schooling from Bal Mohan Vidya Mandir School in the central Mumbai suburb of Dadar, close to his residence in Shivaji Park and later on graduated from the prestigious Sir J.J College of Art."
Like his father and uncle Raj is a gifted painter and cartoonist. He had also expressed his desire to work for Walt Disney Studios. Raj Thackeray said when asked what he would have done had he not joined politics. "In my college days, I wanted to work with Walt Disney Studios. I drew cartoons even before my foray in politics. Film making is also a passion. I would have been doing either of these things." 
Raj is also an avid photographer like his cousin Uddhav Thackeray. Raj has also published a photo-biography on his uncle titled 'Bal Keshav Thackeray' - a photo-biography.
Early lifeRaj Thackeray's commonly-used name is a contraction of Swararaj. His parents were Shrikant Thackeray (younger brother of Bal Thackeray) and Kunda Thackeray (younger sister of Bal Thackeray's wife Meena Thackeray). As a child he learnt the tabla, the guitar and the violin. He had a keen sense of music. He also loved drawing which later turned into a passion for drawing cartoons. He used to contribute cartoons to Marmik, the weekly magazine of his school.
Marathi identityRaj Thackeray and his party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, state that Maharashtra State, Marathi language and Marathi Manoos are subverted by the influence of Marathi politicians.
Opposition to immigrantsRaj Thackeray has opposed immigration into Maharashtra from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Violence in AgitationsRaj Thackery and his party have been criticized for use of violence during their agitations, especially directed towards immigrants from UP and Bihar. On use of violence, Thackeray says that violence is a part of all agitations in Indian politics, and there are several cases of much more violence carried out by other parties and organisations. According to him, the incidences of violence involving members of his party have been unduly highlighted by North Indian politicians and journalists.
Support of Narendra ModiThackeray is an admirer of Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi for his governance, and the development of Gujarat during his tenure. In August 2008, Raj Thackeray visited Gujarat on a 9-day trip as 'state guest' to study the development in Gujarat. He also advised politicians in Maharashtra, irrespective of party, to take lessons from Modi and Gujarat. He has also expressed support for Modi for the post Prime Minister of India for the 2014 Lok Sabha (general) election.
Controversies & Agitations
|This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (April 2013)|
2008 violence against UP & BiharisIn February 2008 Raj Thackeray led a violent movement in what was labelled an andolan (uprising/ protest) against the dominance of migrants from the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in Maharashtra and more so in its commercial capital of Mumbai. His party and Shiv Sena banned Australian cricketers participating in IPL 3 from playing in Mumbai as a protest against the attack on Indian students down under. At a rally in Shivaji Park, Raj warned that if the dadagiri (intimidating dominance) of these people in Mumbai and Maharashtra continued, he would be compelled to make them leave the metropolis. Raj was arrested along with a Samajwadi Party leader, Abu Azmi, for their involvement in the fracas, but was released on paying a penalty of 15000 (US$270).
Acquittal in Kini murder caseIn July 1996, Ramesh Kini was found dead in a cinema in Pune. Kini was a tenant in a ramshackle tenement in central Mumbai, whose landlord, Laxmikant Shah, was trying to evict him. Shah also happened to be a close childhood friend of Raj Thackeray. A CBI enquiry was later issued for the case, but the CBI dismissed the case as one of suicide.
Kohinoor mill controversyShiv Sena opposed sale of mill land, but Raj Thackeray bid for and won mill land in prime Mumbai real estate. On 21 July 2005, Raj and Unmesh Joshi, son of Shiv Sena Leader Manohar Joshi purchased a five acre plot of land, Kohinoor Mill No. 3, located across the road from the Shiv Sena party headquarters in Dadar, Mumbai for 421 crore (US$77 million). The NCP leader from Mumbai, Sachin Ahir, objected to the sale of the Kohinoor Mill land, saying that there were forty bids, yet only three were short-listed. He demanded a re-bid as there was a lack of transparency in the move.
Insistence on Marathi signboards for Mumbai shopsIn July 2008, Raj issued a public warning that Mumbai shops needed to have Marathi signboards in addition to the existing English signboards. He warned that after one month, MNS workers would start blackening non-Marathi signboards. While there had been a law to this effect passed earlier by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, it had not been enforced.
Raj had also insisted that the Marathi signboards had to be at least as big as the English signboards. A number of big shopowners, notably Viren Shah (Roopam chain) went to court against this move. The high-court provided them relief, passing a judgement that the Marathi signboards did not have to be as big as English signboards.
In September 2008, MNS workers resorted to blackening signboards, to enforce the demand, after which most shop owners complied. Six MNS workers were arrested but later released on bail. The Congress government was dilatory in filing chargesheets against them, following which the Maharashtra high-court passed strictures against the government. When the government prosecutor submitted in December that the chargesheets had not been filed as investigation was ongoing, the judge remarked sarcastically whether this was a murder case to warrant such long investigations, three months after the arrest of the MNS workers, but Raj was attempting to enforce a rule previously on the books. 
Reaction to Jaya Bachchan's controversial statementThe words of Jaya Bachchan, veteran actor and sitting Rajya Sabha MP of Samajwadi Party (with whom Raj's MNS has crossed swords a number of times), during the Music launch of the Hindi film Drona, were deemed hurtful by Raj Thackeray.
Jaya's words 'Hum UP (Uttar Pradesh) ke log hain, isliye Hindi mein baat karenge, Maharashtra ke log Maaf Kijiye' (We are people of UP, so we will speak in Hindi. People of Maharashtra, please excuse) after her candid response to the film's director, Goldie Behl, making his introductory speech in English and subsequently encouraging the actress Priyanka Chopra to speak in Hindi.
Raj commented that Jaya had no business alluding to all the people of Maharashtra in that statement. He threatened to ban all Bachchan films unless Jaya apologised in a public forum for hurting Maharashtrians. MNS workers began to attack theatres screening The Last Lear starring Jaya Bachchan's husband, Amitabh Bachchan. Shivsena MP Sanjay Raut also criticized Jaya's statement saying: "After making all your success & fortune in Mumbai, if you feel like saying that, its very unfortunate." It was only after Amitabh tendered an apology that the screening resumed.
Following Raj's threat, Mumbai police acted against Raj, issuing a gag order preventing him from speaking to the media.
Against Jet Airways layoffsIn October 2008, on the eve of the major Indian festival Diwali, Jet Airways laid off 800 temporary workers and announced layoffs of an additional 1100 workers. The laid-off workers included Marathi as well as North-Indians. These workers met Raj Thackeray and asked him to intervene.
Following this, Raj Thackeray declared that most of these workers had paid security deposits to the company, and he would meet Jet management to plead their case. Unless Jet Airways cancelled the layoffs, his party would not allow any Jet Airways plane to take off from any airport in Maharashtra.
Within 12 hours of Raj Thackeray's declaration, Jet chairman Naresh Goyal reversed the layoffs and reinstated the sacked employees. He claimed that he did it on his own and that there was no political pressure on him. Leftist Unions, Shivsena & Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel later tried to take credit for the decision. On announcement of the layoffs, Praful Patel had claimed that he had no jurisdiction over the layoffs issue. Sacked Jet employees on the other hand stated that they were warned by Jet management on reinstatement, not to meet Raj Thackeray to thank him.
Remarks on Chhath Puja and MigrantsRaj reproached North Indian leaders for politicizing Chhath Puja, a festival popular in easern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand calling it a "drama" and a "show of numerical strength". He stated that the Chhath Puja was a political gimmick by some parties to attract the north Indian vote. He questioned the motives by citing that the puja is performed on the banks of a river, not the sea as it was being performed. He demanded that they only celebrate Maharashtra day and not UP day in Maharashtra. A petition was filed in the Patna civil court on 8 February against him for his remarks. His statements drew flak from political leaders across the board, especially those from the North Indian states. The then Indian Railways minister and former chief minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, vowed that he would come to Mumbai and perform Chhath Puja in front of Raj's house, which he failed to perform. He also ridiculed Raj saying, "He [Raj] is a child in politics". The Navnirman Sena leader accused migrants of swamping Maharashtra, India's most industrialised state, in search of jobs.
The MNS chief also accused migrants of disrespecting the local culture. On 9 February, expressing his stance on new migrants settling in Mumbai, Raj said, "New immigrants to the city should be denied entry into the city, while those already staying here should show respect to the Marathi 'manoos' and his culture".