BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Oct 24 (IANS) In barely four months after taking his first baby steps in electoral politics, Shiv Sena’s “Crown Prince” Aditya Thackeray appeared all set to achieve “crowning glory” as the party was on way to becoming a potential king-maker following the 2019 assembly elections outcome.
Dumping the unwritten ‘Matoshree’ traditions of Mumbai’s “first family”, the 29-year- old bachelor Aditya Thackeray not only took his maiden electoral plunge but also came out victorious.
Initially, sections of the party wanted a “new face” by projecting him as the next Chief Ministerial candidate, while many party seniors wanted their “Senapati” Uddhav Thackeray to don the Chief Minister’s mantle, “to fulfil the dream of the late Bal Thackeray.”
But after the ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party frowned and tried to crush the Sena leaders’ ambitions by allotting them only 124 seats out of the total 288 and keeping the rest, there were audible murmurs of protests within the Sena.
On his part, Uddhav Thackeray laughed and deftly downplayed any such ambitions or even the possibility of his son becoming Deputy Chief Minister if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis bagged a second term.
Quick to learn, on one occasion, to a direct question during the poll campaign, Aditya Thackeray displayed boyish innocence by saying that he was already a “CM” or a “Common Man” – endearing himself to ordinary folk in his constituency.
Climbing up from the rungs, the soft-spoken and fresh graduate was catapulted as the chief of the party’s Yuva Sena in 2010 and in 2018 promoted as a Shiv Sena leader.
A typical Mumbaikar, the son of Rashmi and Uddhav Thackeray did his schooling from the reputed Bombay Scottish School, Mahim, later went to the hallowed portals of St. Xaviers College for his BA (History) and subsequently completed his law degree from the prestigious Government Law College.
Early on in his life, he was interested in poetry and published a collection of poems “My Thoughts In White and Black” (2007), followed by penning eight lyrics for a private music album, “Ummeed”.
Displaying aggressive streaks of his late grandfather, Aditya once led a huge book-burning protest against Rohinton Mistry’s publication, “Such A Long Journey” included on the University of Mumbai’s syllabus – as it contained allegedly objectionable and denigrating content pertaining to his family and the Maharashtrians in general.
He again shot into limelight in October 2015 when Shiv Sainiks attacked former BJP leader and intellectual Sudheendra Kulkarni during the launch of a book authored by former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasun, “Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy”, in Mumbai’s Worli area.
Sainiks manhandled Kulkarni shortly before the function, and covered his face and clothes with black ink. An undeterred Kulkarni attended the book release function sporting his blackened face and sullied clothes.
Around 2016, Aditya Thackeray proposed a 24×7 nightlife for Mumbai to increase job opportunities and boost businesses, which was welcomed by the youth and the city’s glam crowds.
The proposal has moved ahead like a snail in the past three years – and is likely to be implemented phase-wise in designated non-residential areas – in view of security and other constraints.
In wake of the December 1992-January 1993 communal carnage followed by the serial bomb blasts of March 1993 and the Mumbai terror strikes of November 2008, Mumbai’s famed night-life had gone into a slumber. After many years, with Aditya Thackeray’s efforts, Mumbai may still remain awake all night.
Soon after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Aditya Thackeray embarked on a gruelling state-wide “Maha Janashirwad Yatra” which inspired him to enter the electoral fray and contest from Worli – a carefully selected debut seat with dollops of the affluent, middle-class and poor sections of society – he couldn’t afford a maiden loss!
Even estranged uncle, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray indirectly supported him by not putting up any candidate against him.
Not surprisingly, there were huge celebrations in the family and the party.
As the possibility of changed political permutations and combinations loom large, many Shiv Sena activists are keeping their fingers crossed for the next few days as the post-poll scenario emerges.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])