Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray never fails to spring surprises. After permitting his son Aditya to contest and win the State Assembly polls from Worli in south-Central Mumbai, Uddhav bit the bullet and became the Chief Minister of the State. Now, he has chosen to induct his son Aditya into his Cabinet — unmindful of a possible criticism about the presence of father-son due in the State Cabinet.
If anything, 29-year-old Aditya Thackeray has arrived on the State’s political scene. Though there was speculation initially that the Shiv Sena might pitch him for the posts of either the Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister’s post, Uddhav scotched the speculation a couple of months ago, by saying that he should learn the ropes before becoming either the Chief Minister or a Deputy Chief Minister.
Coming from the family of Thackerays — four generations of whom have been in public life but had never contested an election till Aditya did so in the 2019 State Assembly polls, Uddhav — who will be contesting a State Assembly bypoll in the next couple of months — and junior Thackeray will soon be well-entrenched in electoral politics.
Uddhav’s 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.
A wildlife photographer-turned-politician — Uddhav himself was a 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.
As much as his chief minister-father Uddhav, the man to be watched in the State politics in the coming days — in his new mantle as a Cabinet Minister — either holding the Education or Environment portfolio.
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.
Aditya has lined up several plans for Mumbai. As a Yuv Sena leader, Aditya had during the previous BJP-Shiv Sena alliance Government, Aditya had mooted “Vibrant Nightlife” proposal for Mumbai.
It may be recalled that within months after the Sena-headed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) adopted a resolution seeking “Vibrant Nightlife” for Mumbai and sent off a proposal to the Maharashtra government suggesting necessary amendments to relevant laws, Aditya had in February 2015 met then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and submitted a formal letter requesting the latter to put in place the laws that make Mumbai a “live 24/7” city.
In a series of tweets that he put out after he met Fadnavis to push his “vibrant Nightlife”, Aditya had written: “Tweeps the GOOD News is CM has accepted my proposal of nightlife and assured me tht necessary amendments to laws by March/August Session”.
“I truly believe that this is well-deserved for Mumbai will not only boost the core economy but also the ancillary industries like transport...At the same momentum, Mumbaikars will have a time zone at night to chill in soon! I will ensure this happens,” a confidant Aditya had tweeted.
Currently, the restaurants and bars close down at 1.30 am. However, once Aditya’s proposal gets implemented, these establishments will remain through the night – provided these establishments are not in designated residential areas. The 1.30 am closure deadline for bars and restaurants has been in force since 1992-93.
Interestingly, acting on Aditya’s proposal, the Mumbai police have for the first time in recent years relaxed bar closing hours on the eve of January 1, 2020. It remains to be seen as to what kind of response the new year bar closing hours relaxation will elicit from Mumbaikars.