Shiv Sena is a regional political party now trying to spread its wings across Indian states but Sena is yet to grow nationally. The third generation of Thackeray leadership is not so popular and at the same time, he lacks that command. Aaditya Thackeray’s cabinet politics started with an irreparable controversy. The series of media trials did not go well with his entrance into active politics. These days, since his father Uddhav is unwell Aaditya is promoted as the lead of the Party. From election campaigns to ribbon cuttings his PR campaigns are at their peak but still he lacks acceptance outside Maharashtra. Aaditya has one strongest advantage and that is his surname, Thackeray.
He went to Goa and Uttar Pradesh campaigning for Shiv Sena but these rallies may not fetch any push for them. People of UP don’t even know who he is. They know Sanjay Raut because he travelled and created some momentum for Shiv Sena. When Aditya was called for a speech, Raut had to introduce people that he is the grandson of Balasaheb Thackeray.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena has many prominent leaders like Sanjay Raut, Dr Neelam Gohre, Vinayak Raut, Arvind Sawant, Milind Narvekar, Varun Sardesai, Ravindra Waikar, Gajanan Kirtikar, Kishori Pednekar and Ramdas Kadam who are well nurtured and well adapted on the lines of Shiv Sena ideology but since they are not Thackeray, they have a limited role to play in spite of their huge contribution towards the day-to-day workings of Shiv Sena.
Shiv Sena was always one of the largest and strongest political parties with all grassroots level leaders and Bala Saheb’s supremacy. But one thing is very prominent only Thackeray’s can become “Shiv Sena Pramukh”. Balasaheb passed on this legacy to his son Uddhav. For that, he even disowned his nephew, Raj Thackeray. Now Uddhav is slowly passing this legacy to Aaditya. In fact, I don’t think anyone in ShivSena would dare to entertain the idea of ever becoming ShivSena Pramukh. They know their place and somewhere they adjusted with this belief.
When Balasaheb was alive all the important decisions were taken at Matoshree. Balasaheb was the actual boss without holding any political post. He could do that because Shiv Saniks were loyal to him. However, the era of absolute loyalty ended with the death of Balasaheb. It does not mean that Shivsaniks are disloyal to Uddhav, but the same level of trust has become rare in politics. Hence, Aaditya Thackeray might have been fielded by Shiv Sena. Now with the third generation of Thackerays, the party is fully engrained in dynasty politics.
The main reason for Shiv Sena not being popular outside Maharashtra is their rooting and pitching Marathi Manoos in the State. They were always against the non-Maharashtra people, now their mood has changed but people have not forgotten what they tackled in the past. Till the time Shiv Sena was aligned with BJP, they could generate some popularity among right-wingers, since the alliance flipped with Congress-NCP and their secular ideologies; they lost their relevance outside Maharashtra.
Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi took decades to gain people’s confidence. They worked very hard, they actually lived with the people and addressed their grievances. Till now they were also projected in a bad light by the BJP It cell but with time they could change the narrative. The dynastic politics was always condemned by Narendra Modi and hugely imbibed in people’s minds. Media channels got engaged 24/7 in creating wrong perceptions about Sonia Gandhi and her children. It’s the upbringing by Indira and political nurturing by their mother and Congress veterans that have paid them now.
Both siblings matured with time and they both have developed a sense of fair politics. They talk fearlessly and voice for the people. They are born in the family of pre-independence leaders and the post-independence era of politics. They both are hugely accepted and acknowledged across India because they proved their make. Aditya needs to walk miles to match them.
The Congress shares power with the Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra. Hitting the campaign trail in Uttar Pradesh, Aditya Thackeray addressed a public meeting in Dumariyagang assembly seat in Siddharthnagar district, terming Shiv Sena candidate Shailedra alias Raju Shrivastav as an “agent of change”. But people were in a dilemma looking at the Maharashtra state politics, where each day one leader is getting arrested on corruption charges.
He addressed a few more gatherings, but one should know the people who attended his rallies were brought there by Shiv Sena local candidates, some just came to see the leaders of Mumbai and others were there out of curiosity. These villagers go to every rally to see what is happening around them. But they were not the crowd of voters like the attendees of Samajwadi rallies or BJP and congress rallies. The campaign trail in Uttar Pradesh by Aaditya Thackeray became news for the day and now people have almost forgotten him and his speeches.
Now Aaditya has challenges for the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal elections. His image so far is of a boy who is being pitched for a man’s responsibility; he has to prove his abilities just like Gandhi’s young generation. Without going Congress’s way, Shiv Sena should grant some liberty and responsibility to its leaders and make it big nationally.
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