Aditya’s entry into poll fray, a watershed moment for Shiv Sena!

Rohti Chandavarkar
Monday, 30 September 2019

Aditya Thackeray’s decision to participate in the poll process and be a member of the state assembly is a welcome step and it shows the changing times. The young voters in the future may not appreciate the so called “remote control” strategy adopted earlier by the Thackerays’ of getting things done the way you want without leaving your documentary mark or accountability (not being the minister or not being a member of the assembly) on it. None of the political families in India follow that method anymore. Its good to see Aditya facing the voters directly. Its a step towards strengthening democracy!

As the heat and dust of assembly election campaign raises in Maharashtra, on Monday, BJP’s principal alliance partner Shiv Sena released a dramatic video, which made headlines on national news channels. The video shows and portrays Sena President Uddav Thackeray’s son Aditya as an emerging leader. Shot like a polished television advertisement the video uses dramatic music and slow motion shoots to make Aditya look glamorous. By afternoon the party announced to journalists close to them that Aditya would be actually contesting the upcoming assembly polls himself, something that no member of this family has ever done in the past 50 years! 

The decision by Shiv Sena’s youth wing president Aditya Thackeray to contest the assembly elections from Worli constituency in Mumbai has surprised many within the Sena and also people from other political parties. Ever since the formation of Shiv Sena, in over 50 years, nobody from the first family of the party, the Thackerays’ contested any elections. When the party came to power for the first time in 1995 and Manohar Joshi became Shiv Sena’s first ever Chief Minister, party supremo Balasaheb Thackeray famously had made a comment saying “anybody can be Chief Minister but the remote control is in my hands”, well for the first time it seems that somebody from the Thackeray family has decided not to hold the remote control but to participate in the electoral process and be in the assembly (Vidhan Sabha) of Maharashtra. This is a watershed moment in the history of Shiv Sena.

Some party insiders say that Uddhav was not too keen on Aditya contesting the polls himself. Uddhav thought that Aditya should first learn the ropes, spend more time travelling across the state and not risk fighting a combined Congress-NCP opposition in any one constituency. But over the past three or four months Shiv Sena carefully planned its strategy, looked for the right constituency, chose Mumbai’s Worli assembly segment for Aditya and then most importantly ensured that NCP heavyweight from this constituency Sachin Ahir crossed over to the Shiv Sena. Ahir has assured the Thackerays’ that his entire team will ensure that they work for Aditya in the campaign.

In his discussions with BJP President Amit Shah, Uddhav showed flexibility on seat sharing in the assembly with the sole condition that Aditya’s entry into the state assembly is ensured. Insiders say Amit Shah told Uddhav that the BJP will “treat Aditya like their own son” and ensure his victory. Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navanirman Sena too will go soft on Aditya because after all the family has been sticking together in times of crisis. So this assembly contest in Worli constituency is going to be more or less a cake-walk for Aditya Thackeray.

Aditya’s decision to participate in the poll process and be a member of the state assembly is a welcome step and it shows the changing times. The young voters in the future may not appreciate the so called “remote control” strategy adopted by the Thackerays’ in the past. Getting things done the way you want without leaving your documentary mark or accountability (not being the minister or not being a member of the assembly) on it, is becoming a thing of the past. None of the political families in India follow that method. We see all political families in North, South, East and West asking their political heirs to contest elections. From Akhilesh Yadav to Jagan Reddy and from Sachin Pilot to Navin Patnaik, all have been in the heat and dust of election campaign contesting themselves. A Thackeray family member doing the same is a positive for strengthening democracy and must be welcomed!

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