With the Maharashtra assembly elections scheduled in mid-October this year, Sena-BJP has started negotiating on seat sharing and their deal is almost finalised. This year for the first time, Thackeray family member and the Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray will directly participate in the election process. Shiv Sena’s recent campaign – Jan Ashirwad Yatra – under the leadership of Aaditya Thackeray focused on the rural areas in the state. Aaditya Thackeray has said that his ‘Jan Aashirwad Yatra’ to thank people for party’s good showing in the Lok Sabha polls has been like a pilgrimage. He went on to say that if the places he visited during the yatra get rains then he was ready to criss-cross the state on foot. While speaking in Shrirampur, Ahmednagar district Thackeray said, “Without your (people’s) support I cannot create a new Maharashtra. I need your support to fulfill your dreams and aspirations.”
“We have to make the state drought free, unemployment free and pollution free. I may not be a farmer but I understand their grief. I have been touring drought affected areas and trying to help farmers since 2012,” he said.
When our correspondent Nikhil Sagare spoke to Shiv Sena MLA Anil Parab he said, “Nothing has been finalised pertaining to the constituency from where Aaditya Thackeray will contest assembly polls. Party workers want Aaditya to contest election from Worli. Aaditya will emerge victorious by contesting polls from any constituency. Young people are attracted towards the youth leadership of Shiv Sena.”
If Aaditya Thackeray contests election he will be the first to contest from the Thackeray family in the history of Shiv Sena. According to sources, Shiv Sena is inclined to present Aaditya Thackeray as its candidate for Chief Minister. Until now Sena has always contested polls without a face. Sources say that time has come for Sena to change its strategy.
Dr Neelam Gorhe Shiv Sena leader and deputy chairperson, Maharashtra Legislative Council said, “Shiv Sena leaders are communicating with people to be aware about the problems faced by them. Many party workers are saying that the manner in which a youth leader like Aaditya Thackeray has emerged in Shiv Sena it restores the confidence of the party and people have faith in them. We have received letters from citizens asking Aaditya Thackeray to contest election from several constituencies. The final decision in this regard will be taken by Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray.”
Earlier, there were speculations that Aaditya Thackeray might contest the upcoming polls from Worli assembly constituency. However, Shiv Sena is exploring options for Thackeray in rural parts of Maharashtra, as they want the seat should be safe for their Yuvraj. A Shiv Sena leader said that Aaditya’s presence in the state legislature will have positive influence on party legislators.
Shiv Sena corporator Dilip Lande said, “Shiv Sena will gain from the Jan Aashirwad Yatra organised by Aaditya Thackeray. If Aaditya Thackeray contests election from any constituency people will vote for him and give him an opportunity to serve the people.”
The ruling parties including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena will be contesting the assembly polls together, as clarified by Uddhav Thackeray during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mumbai. Aaditya Thackeray has been a centre of the political campaigns conducted by Shiv Sena. The ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ aimed to thank voters for a huge win in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, the political motive behind the campaign was to strengthen the party’s roots in rural parts of Maharashtra.
The BJP and Shiv Sena had contested the 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls separately. Later they joined hands to form the government. The BJP had won 122 seats out of 288 seats and Sena won 63 seats. The Congress–NCP had won 42 and 41 seats.