Maharashtrian politics has, for time immemorial, been inseparable from its native party Shiv Sena and its top leadership- the Thackerays; spearheaded by the ideological tenets of Balasaheb Thackeray. But this synonymity has never been accompanied by the dynastic leaders holding direct public office in the government owing to the strict rule of the family to never contest for seats in any elections. This rule, however, has been broken by the fresh face of the Sena and Balasaheb’s grandson, Aaditya Thackeray who, on Monday announced his candidature from Mumbai’s Worli constituency in the Maharashtra state elections.
This move stands as a concretization of many other ideological and policy reforms that Aaditya has been slowly incorporating into the Sena’s fabric these recent years in an attempt to give it a more secular and inclusive image as compared to its popularly rigid and nativity-centred Hindutva narrative. This recent pragmatism stands in congruence with the Sena’s decision of continuing the powerful NDA alliance at the cost of its age-old ‘Big Brother’ image in Maharashtrian polity.
With the prudent choice of the Worli constituency, (it being considered a fail-safe seat for the party), Aaditya is showing high chances of being formally projected as the Sena’s CM candidate for this election which stands to turn the party’s historical modus operandi on its head. Unlike the ‘King-maker’ policy of Balasaheb which ran on indirect rule through influence, the new face of the Sena seeks to ensure direct control through direct participation thereby eliminating any chances of dissenting leaders who may not carry out commands as desired.
The Modern ‘Sainik’ brings a lot of promise to the future of the party as well as its potential constituencies since Aaditya’s major initiatives include- a successful move to revive the Mumbai nightlife and youth culture by pushing for the revocation of the 1:30 a.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants, propagating a socio-political narrative more inclusive of the previously ostracized North-Indian diaspora, and most importantly, the groundbreaking operations of the Sena’s Youth Wing- The ‘Yuva Sena’ previously headed by Aaditya for almost 8 years.
The move can be seen as an attempt to establish firm footing for Aaditya as a charismatic leader both within the party and to the people. The success however, will be tested very soon at the state elections which will spell out the Modern Sainik’s future plan of action.