In a significant milestone in the history of the 53-year-old Shiv Sena, the first-ever Thackeray and its youth wing leader Aditya on Monday took a formal plunge into electoral politics, raising the prospect of his landing deputy Chief Minister’s post — if not the top job — in the event of the BJP-Shiv Sena combine returning to power in Maharashtra.
Addressing a “Vijay Sanklap” rally in the presence of his mother Rashmi and younger brother Tejas, Aditya Thackeray announced his decision to contest the State Assembly polls from Worli constituency in south-central Mumbai.
His father Uddhav was not present at the rally when Aditya announced his decision to contest the State Assembly polls. “I have taken the Sena president’s permission to contest the elections. He is not here because he is busy finalising party candidates for the elections. If the sitting Sena MLA permits and if the Shiv Sainks permit me, I take a pledge in the name of Maratha warrior Shivaji, other big leaders, my grandfather and grandmother and announce that I would contest the elections”.
“I have not taken the decision to enter electoral politics to realise my dreams. But, I have taken the decision for the sake of people. I have not taken the decision to become an MLA, Minister or a Chief Minister. I have taken the decision to fulfil the dreams of the people,” Aditya said.
“I am contesting the people to fight for the justice and rights of the people. This is the time to make Maharashtra unemployment-free, debt-free and pollution-free. This is the time to build new Maharashtra where there are no barriers of religions, caste etc,” the Sena youth wing leader said.
Interestingly enough, Aditya’s announcement that he would contest the State Assembly polls came two days after his father and Sena president Uddhav disclosed at party workers’ meeting that that he had promised late Sena chief Balasaheb in the latter’s final days of life that he would Shiv Sainik a Chief Minister one day and that he would fulfill his promise made to his late father, come what may.
Though the Shiv Sena has staked claim for the Chief Minister’s post, it is quite unlikely that the Sena would have its way, given that the BJP has already announced that the incumbent Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would be the next Chief Minister as well in the event of the saffron alliance Government returning to power. On his part, Fadnavis has offered deputy Chief Minister’s post in the new BJP-Sena Government if the saffron alliance recaptures power in the state.
Admitting that he does not know anything except politics, Aditya said: “I have learnt things from the times of my grandfather (late Bal Thackeray) and Shiv Sena leaders that one has to involve in social work for 80 per cent of time and devote 20 per cent of the time to politics”.
Aditya, who is being tipped as the deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in the event of the saffron alliance Government recapturing power in the State, made it clear that he wants to represent not just Worli constituency but the entire state. “I would like to develop Worli. Alongside, I would like to Maharashtra forward. Entire Maharashtra is my Karmabhoomi. Hence, I will not work just for Worli but for entire Maharashtra”.
Aditya said that he had travelled through the length and breadth of Maharashtra during the last ten years. “I have received a lot of love from the people during the course of my recent Jan Ashirwad Yatra. It was during this yatra that I elicited the opinion of the people whether or not contest the State Assembly polls”.
Twenty-nine-year-old Aditya is the first Thackeray in the four generations of Thackerays that Maharashtra has seen in public life, to contest an election.
His great grandfather Keshav Sitaram Thackeray — better known as Prabodhankar Thackeray — was one of the key figures in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement who played a key role in the campaign for a linguistic state of Maharashtra, while most popular grandfather Bal Thackeray — a cartoonist-turned politician — founded Shiv Sena in 1966. He carved a place for himself in Maharashtra politics, but chose to remain a kingmaker than a king
His father Uddhav Thackeray – a wildlife photographer-turned-politician – was reluctant beginner in public life. Uddhav was anointed by his late father as the Shiv Sena’s national executive president way back in January 2002. He has never contested an election, even though he has established his firm hold over the party set-up during the past 17 years. Nor has his uncle and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray contested any election.
Aditya’s rise in the Shiv Sena began nine years ago, when late Thackeray launched the Shiv Sena’s youth wing “Yuva Sena” and anointed his grandson Aditya Thackeray as its head in October 2010, two years before he passed away on November 12, 2012.
A Bachelor of Arts in History from Mumbai’s elite St. Xavier’s College, Aditya has come a long way since his college days. As a third-year Arts student, Aditya had hit headlines ahead of his anointment as the Yuv Sena chief in 2010, when he forced the Bombay University withdraw Rohinton Mistry's novel Such A Long Journey, prescribed for the second year Bachelor of Arts (English) as an optional text book, from the syllabus. Aditya had opposed Mistry’s book on the ground that it contained foul language and derogatory references to the Shiv Sena.
The year 2010 proved to be eventful for Aditya. It was in that year the Yuv Sena for the first time swept the Mumbai University (MU) Senate polls from the Graduates’ constituency. Eight years later – in March 2018, the Yuv Sena once again swept the MU senate by decimating the BJP’s student outfit Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Congress-backed NSUI and winning all the 10 seats.
Between 2010 and 2019, Aditya has not only established a following of his own among the youth in various parts of the state, but he has also learned the ropes of party politics by working in tandem with his father and party president Uddhav.
During the last two to three year years, Uddhav has been promoting Aditya in a big way. In recent months, the Sena has gone to the extent of projecting Aditya as a chief ministerial candidate.On his part, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut -- speaking at the party workers' rally where the party's youth wing leader announced his decision to contest the State Assembly polls --predicted that after the elections, Aditya would occupy the sixth floor office at Mantralaya ( the chief minister's office is on the sixth floor at the state secretariat).
In the event of the Sena on its own winning more than 90 to 100 seats in the State Assembly polls, it is likely that the Sena will demand the chief ministerial post on a rotational basis i.e., first two half years the Chief minister’s post would be with the BJP while for the remaining two and a half years it would be with the Shiv Sena. In such a situation, the Shiv Sena would realise its dream of installing its man (read Aditya Thackeray) as the chief minister of the state.