In one of the nicest ironies in Shiv Sena supremo and `Hindutva' champion Bal Thackeray's life, the doctor who treated him for the past five years and was with him in his last hours was a Muslim.
Dr Jalil Parkar, well known Pulmonologist from Lilavati hospital who had been Thackeray's trusted physician for the last five years, made the announcement of Sena chief's death on Saturday evening with tears in his eyes before the crowd of party workers and mediapersons in Mumbai.
Dr Parkar, a Muslim, earned the faith of Thackeray family after he successfully treated the Sena patriarch's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that makes breathing difficult, some years ago.
From thereon, everytime Thackeray developed health complications, Dr Parkar was called in. He became so close to the family that in the recent years he was spotted on the dais with other VIPs at the annual Dussehra rally of Shiv Sena.
Dr Parkar is credited with saving Thackeray's life five times in five years. When senior Thackeray needed a second heart intervention in 2009 (the first was needed in 1996), it was Dr Parkar who prescribed the treatment which was readily accepted by the Sena chief.
When Uddhav Thackeray, his son and Shiv Sena executive president, needed a heart surgery some months ago, it was again Dr Parkar who led the medical team which treated him.
Though there was some commentary in political circles about Thackeray's personal doctor being a Muslim, Dr Parkar never commented on this aspect. All he would say was the Sena Chief had been very kind to him.