Why Aaditya is contesting the elections?
Mumbai: Aaditya, son of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, filed his nomination papers from Worli constituency for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections on Thursday, making it the first time a Thackeray family member is contesting elections. On his way to the Collector’s office, Aaditya Thackeray said Maharashtra will soon have a Shiv Sena Chief Minister.
Shiv Sena has been projecting Aaditya Thackeray as a chief ministerial candidate while partner BJP has been firm on its stand of continuing with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
On Thursday, Shiv Sena staged a mega rally in the heart of Mumbai as Aaditya Thackeray went to file his nomination papers for the electoral debut. Large groups of Shiv Sena workers were seen dancing on the streets decked up in saffron. As Aaditya’s open jeep waded through the crowd, fans and supporters gathered on the roads showered flower petals on the cavalcade.
Why Aaditya Thackeray is contesting the polls?
Aaditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s elder son, is doing what no other Thackeray has done in 53 years of the party’s existence. He will contest the Maharashtra assembly election from the Worli constituency in Central Mumbai. Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray — Aaditya’s late grandfather — ruled the party and state administration — when the Sena was part of the Maharashtra government in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1995 — without being part of the state or central government.
After the first Sena-BJP government was formed, the Sena supremo often quipped that he ruled the state with a ‘remote control’ in his hand. After Bal Thackeray’s death in 2012, his youngest son Uddhav took over the party’s reins. Uddhav too has never contested an election. He did not become part of the government after the BJP-Sena combine formed a second government in 2014 with the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister.
Speculation is rife that Aaditya will become the first Thackeray to join the government by taking over as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister after the October 21 Assembly election, which the BJP-Sena is expected to win decisively.
Unlike the other Thackerays, the 29 year old wants to join electoral politics and has always been interested in it. The Thackerays like to see themselves as kingmakers and believe in controlling the government from the outside.
But the young Thackeray and his influential mother Rashmi Thackeray believe those days are gone and if one wants to change the system, one needs to be ‘in’ the system by contesting elections. Being a part of the government, one can be part of making policy and change people’s lives.
With his father Uddhav looking after the party, Aaditya believes he can concentrate on electoral politics.
What made Aaditya contest elections?
Electoral strategist Prashant Kishor — who gave Narendra Modi a political makeover before the 2014 Lok Sabha election — is said to be working closely with Aaditya and the Sena. The Sena has always been a cadre-based party with its grassroot workers and neighbourhood shakhas.
With Kishor’s advice and social media, the Sena hopes to grow beyond its traditional Maharashtrian constituency and enhance Aaditya’s appeal with cosmopolitan Mumbaikars.
How prepared is Aaditya for electoral politics?
Aaditya heads the Yuva Sena — the party’s youth wing — and has been participating in key party discussions, like hammering out the vexed electoral alliance with the BJP at his father’s side. Interestingly, he has chosen not to take the legislative council — Maharashtra is a state with both a legislative assembly (the Lower House) and a legislative council (the Upper House) — route into electoral politics, opting for an assembly election instead.
Why Aaditya is contesting from Worli?
Worli has never been an easy seat for the Shiv Sena to win. Worli is a stronghold of Sachin Ahir, who previously headed the Nationalist Congress Party’s Mumbai unit. In 2014 though, Ahir lost the election to the Sena’s Sunil Shinde, but remains a dominating presence in the constituency.
Two months ago, Ahir was inducted into the Sena, a sign that Aaditya would contest his first election from Worli. Worli has chawls and high rises cheek by jowl, and with Ahir in the Sena ranks, Aaditya could win the election easily.
How is Aaditya connecting with youth in Maharashtra?
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, Aaditya hosted an interactive programme Aaditya Sanvad (Connect with Aditya) in several districts of the state. The BJP’s youngest leader in the state is Chief Minister Fadnavis who is 49. Aaditya — who was educated at Mumbai’s Bombay Scottish School and St Xavier’s College, and at ease speaking in English — is 20 years younger and more likely to connect with millennials than the senior citizen politicians who currently dominate Maharashtra politics.
Like his father, Aaditya is soft-spoken, minus his grandfather’s fire-and-brimstone approach to people and politics. Aaditya has also steered clear of controversy. Though his father has brandished the building of the Ram temple in recent speeches, the son has not mentioned religion or Hindutva — he is, don’t forget, the grandson of the ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ (the emperor of Hindu hearts) — in any of his speeches.
He prefers butter issues like employment and development. He works with individuals like environmental activist Afroz Shah who leads Mumbai’s beach-cleaning drives. He talks about the ban on plastic. He is also a huge advocate of Mumbai remaining open 24×7 which has so far been implemented only in part. He thinks of the future and how the youth will lead their lives.
The Shiv Sena’s junior status to the BJP
This is the current reality which Uddhav understands. Few can withstand the Modi wave at this time. If the Sena wants to become the number one party in Maharashtra, the Thackerays cannot watch from the sidelines. They cannot stay away from legislative politics and will have to work from within to re-energise the party. Nobody gave Uddhav a chance after his father’s death. Word on the street was that the Sena would implode.
But Uddhav has cleverly retained his father’s winning touch, and the party remains powerful in the state even if the BJP has upstaged it. Aaditya feels the Sena’s time will come and he has to wait it out patiently.