Aditya Thackeray: grand ‘son rise’ in Maharashtra on the cards?
Struggling with an image problem and on the verge of losing the perception war to an aggressive Raj Thackeray of the MNS, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thakeray has decided to field his son as the face of Shiv Sena in the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra.
Months from now, one may witness something unprecedented: Aditya Thackeray is expected to become the first-ever member of the Thackeray clan to contest an election. And if the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance wins, he is slated to take an important post in the Maharashtra government.
Struggling with an image problem and on the verge of losing the perception war to an aggressive Raj Thackeray of the MNS, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thakeray has decided to field his son as the face of Shiv Sena in the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra. The elections will be held at the end of the year.
On Wednesday, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut declared that the party wants to see supremo Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aditya Thackeray as the next chief minister of Maharashtra. The grandson of Bal Thackeray currently heads the youth wing of the party.
Raut’s statement is being seen as indicative of the Shiv Sena’s eagerness to assert its presence in the Maharashtra alliance. The party had lost its position of promience vis-a-vis ally BJP since the phenomenal rise of the BJP five years back.
“A struggling Shiv Sena -- with the breakaway MNS under Raj Thackeray getting stronger by the day -- is no match for the BJP under the leadership and organisational strength of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The Sena has been stating that the BJP has agreed to a 2.5-year-each formula for Chief Ministership but nothing of that sort is final yet. It will all depend on the performance of the parties in the assembly elections,” a former BJP MP from Maharashtra told Asiaville. He added that the BJP’s main focus in this election is to ensure that Raj Thackeray does not rise beyond a point and to make sure he does not ally with the Congress and NCP.
BJP leaders privately admit that their early moves to cobble up a Dalit front as an answer to the rising influence of the Dalit-Muslim front Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) lead by Prakash Ambedkar have not been successful due to the reluctance of the Shiv Sena to give up seats.
“The greatest fear is the VBA, Raj Thackeray and the NCP-Congress coming together but that won't happen. There are too many problems there too,” another former BJP MLA from Maharashtra admits.
Despite being on a downward spiral, the Shiv Sena plans to launch Aditya Thackeray because of the BJP's reconciliatory gestures before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the subsequent alliance in the run-up to elections. The BJP needed the alliance to check the Congress-NCP and to counter the possibility of any adverse electoral fallout of Raj Thackeray's scathing attacks on Prime Minister Modi. Though the MNS did not contest the Maharashtra polls, the mammoth rallies it organised “against the BJP” sent shock waves in the corridors of power in Delhi.
Traditional partners BJP and Sena split ahead of the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections and the BJP emerged as the single largest party winning 122 seats, a little short of a majority. The Shiv Sena won only 63 seats. But it extended support to the BJP government later. After much bickering, the two parties came together to fight the 2019 Parliamentary elections together. The BJP won 23 out of 25 seats it contested while the Shiv Sena could garner only 18 of 23. The BJP with a better strike rate and a Chief Minister in the saddle may not wish to provide Aditya Thackeray a launchpad. But the young poet and lyricist certainly has an important year ahead.