Aditya Thackeray’s entry into electoral politics made a regular and uninteresting Maharashtra state assembly election exciting for the Shiv Sena cadres. Born in a political family, politics is not new to Aditya Thackery. In 2010, he entered politics in a “quintessential” Shive Sena style of burning a copy of Rohinton Mistry’s celebrated book ‘Such a Long Journey’, citing offensive content against ‘Marathis’ and Bal Thackeray. Congress- NCP government had later withdrawn the novel from the syllabus of Mumbai University. Even while Aditya Thackery is a third-generation political leader from the Thackery clan, one must note drastic changes in the current political situation since the inception of Shiv Sena, considering they have lost a vast part of their ground to the BJP, making them into a junior partner of the alliance.
Aditya Thackeray’s entry in politics also underlines the changing political situation in the country. While Bal Thackery and his son Uddhav Thackeray has always projected themselves above ‘electoral politics’, as rather ‘Kingmakers’ whose prime motivation has not been to capture power but to protect the cultural values of Hindutva and secure the rights of Marathis, such tactics and propositions came to be challenged and demolished in 2014 by the successive electoral win of BJP over Congress, with the critique of the Manmohan Singh government as a remote control government. The knowledge of the same alongside the understanding that leading from the front does not mean staying in the party house and giving press statements, Aditya Thackeray intends to rather be in the helm of affairs of the state by being in power (Government).
It’s interesting to observe Aditya Thackeray being surrounded by non-Marathi people and greet people in various languages through hoardings. While the party started with the idea of ‘Marathi first’, wishing people different languages now underlines the changing nature of politics with Aditya Thackeray at the helm. Even when these multilingual posters did make some murmurs among the Sena supporters, reiterating Shiv Sena’s initial intention to defend the interest of the Marathi people, these rumblings have gradually diluted.
Now, considering the surety of young Thackeray’s victory in Worli, what needs to be observed is the vote margin of his victory. Aditya Thackeray has to face three tough challenges: i. Unlike the previous NDA coalition, the intent of the current NDA governments across the country under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah has been to completely infiltrate the vote base of their alliance partners, be they longstanding alliances, to build their own party. The most recent examples of the same can bee seen in BJP’s alliance with TDP, PDP and JD (U), where BJP not only infiltrated their base but also broke the alliance and created enormous trouble for their partners through CBI, ED and etcetera. While Aditya Thackeray will clearly lead the party in the assembly. However, the question remains as to whether Shiv Sena will be a part of the government or maintain the status quo? ii. Now, Shiv Sena has officially become the junior partner of BJP. Will they continue to be a junior partner is another crucial question that is yet to be unravelled. If, yes than for how long will they continue to be so? iii. In a recent interview with Aaj Tak, anchor Anjana Om Kashyap noted Aditya Thackeray to be the Rahul Gandhi of Shiv Sena (reinstating the “pappu” image created by the BJP and its troll army). It’s an early warning sign for Aditya Thackeray against taking on BJP, by the troll army and media. On the other hand, the Thackeray’s are not Gandhis in terms of the fact that they rule by the fear and intimidation. However, whether it will work against the fearless Modi-Shah duo is another issue altogether? There are many questions and challenges for Aditya Thackeray which only time will unfold. Whether he will emerge to be another improved version of Bal Thackeray or become marginalised as Raj Thackeray, cannot be predicted with precision. Shiv Sena is one of the strong regional parties of India that is at the crossroads. Whether Aditya Thackeray will bring back the glory of Shiv Sena days or will he succumb to old political practices of power without accountability is another point in question that remains to be seen.