Aaditya Thackeray is all set to emerge the Shiv Sena’s top choice to lead the party in the state legislature and possibly the new government, if the saffron parties wrest power in Maharashtra in the upcoming Assembly polls.
On Thursday, as Aaditya turned 29, Sena’s rank and file made a beeline to Matoshree, his family residence in Bandra, to wish him and build consensus and ground for his launch in electoral politics.
Apart from workers, top Sena leaders, namely Manohar Joshi, Eknath Shinde and Neelam Gorhe, along with Sena legislators, visited Matoshree and strongly advocated the need for Aaditya to take a leap in electoral politics.
The momentum to showcase him as the party face and leader after his father, Uddhav, has been built up over the last year. Over the last month, the buzz about his foray in electoral politics increased, with Aaditya himself saying that the decision would be taken by his father and other senior leaders. If he contests polls, he will be the first member of the Thackeray family to do so, breaking the tradition set by his grandfather, Bal Thackeray, and followed by his father, Uddhav, and uncle, Raj Thackeray.
A senior Sena leader admitted the party had assessed the on-ground scenario and zeroed in on two constituencies – Mahim and Shivadi – from where Aaditya could contest polls. Both are Sena bastions, home to a loyal ‘Marathi manoos’ votebank. In the recent polls, too, these Assembly seats gave massive leads to the saffron candidate.
“In case of a cabinet reshuffle, Aadityasaheb should take up the deputy chief minister’s post and become the chief minister after the Assembly elections,” said environment minister Ramdas Kadam.
Kadam was one among many who voiced this sentiment on Thursday. “People of Maharashtra view Aaditya as a youth icon and wish he becomes the chief minister of the state,” said Varun Sardesai, a core committee member of Yuva Sena.
The saffron allies- BJP and Shiv Sena- had agreed on an equal power and seat-sharing formula ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. While BJP insiders claim equal power sharing refers to equal splitting of ministerial portfolios and deputy chief minister’s post for the Sena, the latter says it refers to equal ministerial berths and split in CM’s tenure between the two parties. “Whether the Sena gets the post of deputy chief minister or chief minister for 2.5 years, it is clear that it will go to Aaditya Thackeray,” said a senior Sena leader.
“This was a clear show of strength to project him as chief minister. There has never been such a grand celebration where all top leaders speak in a single voice for him,” said political commentator Hemant Desai.
He said that the Sena knows that this alliance will bounce back to power on the strength of the recent Lok Sabha results, where the opponents were decimated and this is a fertile ground for Aaditya.
Aaditya on his birthday started his day addressing the media, where he gave details of his meeting with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, where he took up the cause of SSC students and distressed farmers.
However, Aaditya refused to comment on his induction to electoral politics.
“I thank people for reposing faith in me, but currently my focus is to provide relief to SSC students and ensure their smooth admissions to colleges and provide respite to farmers affected by the drought,” said Aaditya.