The Shiv Sena on Thursday pitched party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son and Yuva Sena chief, Aaditya, as their chief ministerial candidate, ahead of the state Assembly elections expected to be held in October. The declaration — the first time Sena leaders officially projected the 29-year-old as the party’s choice — came just after Aaditya started his statewide ‘Jan Ashirwad Daura’ from Jalgaon.
It comes on the heels of BJP national general secretary Saroj Pandey asserting last week that the next CM would come only from the BJP. Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Sena MLA Kishor Patil said Aaditya is the “party’s as well the people’s choice for the post of CM”. Meanwhile, Thackeray, during his speech in Pachora, said he has not embarked on the statewide tour to get any post or to seek votes.
“It is the people’s choice that Aaditya should lead the state in Vidhan Sabha and decide the future of Maharashtra,” said Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, adding that Aaditya has the leadership qualities acceptable to the state.
Patil, Sena MLA from Pachora, said, “The saffron flag will fly over the Vidhan Sabha, and then nothing can stop our Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray from becoming the chief minister.”
Thackeray could also be the first member of his family to get into electoral politics and is being groomed for it. The Worli or Sewri Assembly segment could be the seat for him if he decides to deviate from the Thackeray tradition, party insiders say. Thackeray launched his tour from Pachora in Jalgaon district with a pitch to build a “new Maharashtra”.
“Jan Ashirvad Yatra is not a tour for elections; it is not a tour to get any post, or for me to become something, but this tour is to build a new Maharashtra. This is the moment, an opportunity to build a new Maharashtra. I am going to visit all villages, whether it is Sena’s bastion or not. The tour is to take the saffron flag to every house in the state, but it is not to seek votes. I consider this to be my tirth yatra (pilgrimage),” Thackeray said in his speech.
The tour is seen as Sena’s plan to drum up support for itself in the constituencies where it has little or marginal presence. Thackeray’s tour comes ahead of CM Devendra Fadnavis’s ‘development yatra’, wherein he will tour all 288 constituencies of the state, ahead of the polls.
Post the 2014 state elections, the Sena lost its ‘big brother’ status to the BJP in the height of the ‘Modi wave’. For the 2019 state Assembly elections, the two parties are in an alliance, but the Sena wants to consolidate its numbers and gain maximum seats so as to seek better portfolios.