Uddhav Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party, thanked the electorate and incumbent Shiv Sena MLA from Worli, Sunil Shinde, who will be required to vacate his seat for Aaditya. He also expressed gratitude to the ‘shiv sainiks’ in Worli who have “accepted” the youngest Thackeray.
Maharashtra: Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on his way to the office of Returning Officer to file nomination from the Worli Assembly constituency in Mumbai for the upcoming #MaharashtraAssemblyPolls pic.twitter.com/rB15SIIvax
— ANI (@ANI) October 3, 2019
“Now the times are changing, so the young generation will take the country forward,” Uddhav said to reporters shortly after Aaditya filed his nomination. On Thursday morning, Aaditya led a roadshow on his way to the office, standing atop an open vehicle and greeting his supporters as his nomination rally passed through streets of Worli.
Speaking to ANI, he said, “I am happy and excited. It feels great to witness the support of people”. Aaditya’s nomination rally also witnessed a show of support by Shiv Sena allies as flags of BJP and other NDA-ally Republican Party of India (A) were also seen during the nomination march. Slogans like Sena bhi taiyar, aur senapati bhi, were chanted by enthused Shiv Sainiks.
Ahead of his nomination, Aaditya also tweeted a picture of him bowing before a portrait of his grandfather and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Last week, Shiv Sena had announced the candidature of junior Thackeray from the Worli seat.
According to a party source, the Yuva Sena chief is a voracious reader, has the ability to hold his own in debates about the metropolis and the state, and has a connect with the grassroot Sainiks.
“All these factors strengthen his appeal,” he said.
Aaditya joined politics in 2009 and since then has been actively working in the organisation, building a cadre of new young leaders by being in the background, Harshal Pradhan, a close aide of the Sena president, told PTI. In October 2010, Uddhav named him as the head of the party’s newly-created youth wing after his successful campaign in getting Rohinton Mistry’s book ‘Such a long journey’ banned from the BA syllabus of the Mumbai University because it contained “offensive passages” about the party.
“In the last ten years, he travelled across the state to understand and grasp the issues on the ground. Hence, he decided to break the family tradition of not contesting elections,” Pradhan said.
He is the “only leader in the country below the age of 30” who has already toured the entire state through his Jan Ashirwad yatra and addressed over 75 ‘Aaditya sansads’ (a two-way communication with youth), Yuva Sena secretary Varun Sardesai claimed.
Apart from being a critic of the Maharashtra government under Devendra Fadnavis for its decision to build a car shed for the Mumbai Metro line three in the city’s “green lung”, the Aarey milk colony, Aaditya has been committed to improve the nightlife for the youth in the city. Speaking about the Aarey colony at the India Today Conclave in September, Aaditya said, “It’s about the ecosystem not about victories.” The two saffron parties have been sparring with each other over the issue as the long-drawn negotiations for the seat-sharing arrangement got underway.
The Shiv Sena has been projecting him as party’s future chief ministerial face if and when the party bags the highest number of seats. But for now, Poll pundits speculate that having Aaditya as the deputy chief minister is one of the preconditions due to which Sena has accepted the role of a junior partner in the alliance with the BJP.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, the Sena won 63 out of the total 288 seats, second only to BJP’s 122, with both parties then contesting separately. The Congress and NCP had then promised support and wanted the Sena to stake claim for the chief minister’s post, “But Uddhavji declined saying he wouldn’t compromise on the issue of his party’s Hindutva ideology for the sake of power,” a source in the Sena recalled.
Shiv Sena and BJP are jointly contesting Maharashtra Assembly polls, scheduled to be held 21 October. In August, Aaditya had launched a state-wide Jan Ashirwad Yatra to express gratitude to voters for their support in this year’s Lok Sabha polls and also to seek their favour for the upcoming Assembly elections.
The Congress and NCP had then promised support and wanted the Sena to stake claim for the chief minister’s post, “But Uddhavji declined saying he wouldn’t compromise on the issue of his party’s Hindutva ideology for the sake of power,” a source in the Sena recalled. Senior Sena leaders like Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai also persuaded the party president for the need to have somebody from the family in the state Assembly, looking at the current political scenario, he said. “(Thus) Worli was chosen as a safe seat. Inducting NCP leader Sachin Ahir, who had earlier been an MLA from Worli seat in Mumbai, into the Sena was part of the plan,” the source said.
Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut last week met NCP chief Sharad Pawar requesting him not field a candidate against Aaditya in Worli, he said. He reminded the Maratha strongman how Sena supremo late Bal Thackeray had done such a favour during the election of the former’s daughter Supriya Sule to the Rajya Sabha, the source said.
“Aaditya has a say in all matters in the Sena, and will be the party’s face in the upcoming Assembly polls,” he said.
The party is of the view that the Sena and the BJP should share the chief minister’s post for equal period of time, but may agree to deputy chief minister’s post for Aaditya, he added.
With inputs from PTI