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False Thackeray wedding tale goes viral in Pak net
Mamta Chitnis Sen  MUMBAI | 18th Dec 2011

ections of Pakistan media have been feasting on an invention. The Pak internet in particular has been rife with reports this past one week that Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's granddaughter Neha has married a Gujarati Muslim. The reports spice up the suggestion of authenticity by adding that Bal Thackeray did not attend the wedding.

The groom, Mannan Thakkar, however is son of construction magnate Nipubhai Thakkar, who starts laughing at the thought. "We have always been Hindu Gujaratis. I don't know why such reports are being published. Several veteran journalists from regional media houses attended the wedding. I don't know why it is being said that my son is a Muslim." Thakkar says he is both amused and confused.

Mannan, a medical practitioner in Mumbai, married Neha, a jewellery designer, at a glittering ceremony on 4 December at the five-star Taj Land's End in the city. The wedding was attended by all members of the Thackeray clan, including Bal Thackeray.

Neha is the daughter of Bal Thackeray's son Bindumadhav (also known as Binda), a film producer who passed away in an accident in 1996. According to the late Binda Thackeray's friends, his wife Madhavi moved out of the Thackerays' Bandra residence Matoshree with her children Neha and Nihar soon after his death. The family is known to be close to Balasaheb's nephew, the rebel Raj Thackeray, who has formed his own party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The only time Nihar was spotted in public was at Raj Thackeray's home when the latter was arrested in February 2008 for his anti-migrant speech.

"I have known Neha since her childhood. My elder son Mannan is a doctor who studied in the United States. My younger son Naman is studying to be a lawyer and will soon appear for his examinations. Naman too is getting married. His wedding is on 29 January 2012. He is marrying the daughter of Dipan Merchant, Chief Advisory Counsel of Adarsh Commission. He is working under him as a trainee," says the groom's father. Nipubhai Thakkar was a friend of Binda Thackeray.

A source who attended the wedding said, "It was Rajsaheb (Raj Thackeray) who performed the kanyadaan. He was in charge of the entire marriage celebrations and was present at the venue early and stayed till the end. Balasaheb came with Uddhav and others in the evening."

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena spokesperson Shirish Parkar, who attended the wedding, told The Sunday Guardian that the marriage ceremony was a close knit affair but the reception was attended by over 1,000 guests. "The marriage took place according to Hindu rituals. A variety of cuisines from across the world were served at the reception," said Parkar. Almost all MNS MLAs attended the wedding.

58-year-old Nipubhai Thakkar said that he did not feel like issuing any clarifications on the "reports" circulating on the internet. "We are ordinary people. I thought such 'news' would circulate for two-three days and then stop. Since Balasahebji himself refrained from issuing any clarifications I too thought it was best not to say anything. Balasaheb is like my uncle and someone as prominent as him will always be in the news. Someone has played mischief and it is best to ignore it. If more clarifications on this matter are needed you are welcome to come to my home and meet my wife," he said.

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