Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray arrives at Sen Bhavan in Mumbai, Thursday, October 24, 2019. (PTI Photo/Mitesh Bhuvad)
Mumbai Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who made history by becoming the first member of his family to take poll plunge, has marked his arrival in Maharashtra politics with a bang and is likely to play a key role in the next state government and help expand his party.
The 29-year-old next-gen Thackeray, whom his party wants to be the deputy chief minister in the BJP-Sena alliance government, won with a thumping majority from Mumbai’s Worli constituency.
The Yuva Sena leader is now likely to make his party, which was rooted in the ‘sons of the soil’ agenda and later embraced the Hindutva ideology, more inclusive and broad-based.
In run up to the polls, he conducted several roadshows, foot marches and raised issues like cutting of trees in Aarey Colony and Mumbai’s nightlife and said he wants to make the constituency a “model of development”.
He also reached out to non-Marathi voters in the constituency to romp home a big win. A pass out of the Bombay Scottish School in suburban Mahim, Aaditya is a graduate in English Literature from St Xavier’s College and has a law degree from KC College.
He has always managed to keep himself abreast of civic issues and concerns of youth in the state. The Maharashtra government’s decision to ban plastic is partly credited to his campaign against the widespread use of the material.
In a bid to attract young followers, he also proposed the revival of Mumbai’s nightlife by allowing malls and restaurants to be open all night. The Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has approved the proposal, which is now pending with the chief minister for clearance.
The young politician also sports a creative side like his grandfather, father and uncle.
His grandfather, the late Bal Thackeray, who founded the Shiv Sena in 1966, was a cartoonist, an art shared by his estranged uncle Raj Thackeray, the chief of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
His father, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, is a professional photographer. Aaditya also shares his father’s passion for photography.
His first book of poems, “My Thoughts in Black and White” was released in 2007 by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. He also wrote lyrics of a private album ‘Ummeed’.
He hit the headlines in 2010 for leading a protest against author Rohinton Mistry’s book “Such a Long Journey” in the University of Mumbai’s English Literature curriculum. Since then, he has been at the helm of several such protests and campaigns.
While some of his campaigns saw several takers, a few other projects didn’t quite hit the mark.
Aaditya tried to implement his plans for open gymnasiums in Mumbai’s open spaces. However, the plan ran into trouble as the gymnasiums were set up without the civic body’s approval.
Under his leadership, the Yuva Sena continues to dominate the Mumbai University senate for the last two terms.
Despite belonging to a political dynasty of sorts, he is the first in his family to become a member of the state legislature.
His win has the potential to bring in “achche din” for the Sena, which over past few years has been forced to play second fiddle to senior ally BJP, a Sena leader said.
The Yuva Sena chief is a voracious reader, and has the ability to hold his own in debates about the metropolis and the state, and has a connect with the grassroot Sainiks.
“All these factors strengthen his appeal,” he said.
Aaditya Thackeray joined politics in 2009 and since then has been actively working in the organisation, building a cadre of new young leaders by being in the background.
“In the last ten years, he travelled across the state to understand and grasp the issues on the ground. Hence, he decided to break the family tradition of not contesting polls,” Harshal Pradhan, a close aide of the Sena president, said.
According to the Sena, he is the “only leader in the country below the age of 30” who has already toured the entire state through his ‘Jan Ashirwad’ Yatra and addressed over 75 ‘Aaditya Sansads’ (a two-way communication with youth).
Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time.