(L-R) Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is grooming his son, Amit Thackeray, to take up administrative responsibilities within the party | The Print
(L-R) Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is grooming his son, Amit Thackeray, to take up administrative responsibilities within the party | The Print
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Mumbai: Early next year, when 10 municipal corporations go to polls in Maharashtra, there could be one more leader from the Thackeray clan among the key players in the election, ThePrint has learnt.

This newest Thackeray on the block is expected to be Raj Thackeray’s son Amit Thackeray, who is being groomed to take up administrative responsibilities within the party in preparation for the 2022 civic polls. Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray are, of course, the more prominent faces among the Thackerays.  

The MNS chief, Uddhav’s estranged cousin, has unofficially asked Amit to take charge of the partys poll preparation and campaign in Nashik, party sources told ThePrint.

For the MNS, the municipal poll to Nashik is the most significant of the 10 local body elections after Mumbai, the city where the party was born. 

Nashik is the only city where the party, which was born in 2006, has managed to singlehandedly come to power in the local body. The party won the 2012 civic election to the Nashik Municipal Corporation, but lost power in 2017 to the BJP.

“In the 2019 assembly election, Amit Thackeray helped in campaigning for the party, but this time, for the 2022 civic elections, he will definitely play a much bigger role even in terms of the MNS’ administrative preparation for the election. Unofficially, Raj saheb has asked him to lead the MNS’ campaign in Nashik,” a senior MNS functionary told ThePrint.

Other than Nashik, the civic bodies of Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nagpur, Amravati, Akola and Solapur will go to polls early 2022.

Also read: Use landline for work, texts over calls, be polite: Uddhav govt’s new mobile phone rules

Amit Thackeray on Nashik tour

Twenty-nine-year-old Amit has had two tours to Nashik so far — one last week for two days, and another this week. The junior Thackeray has been holding meetings with MNS functionaries in Nashik, including members of its student wing and other affiliate units in the city. 

“Ahead of the 2017 elections, a number of people from our administrative base in Nashik deserted us and went to the BJP. But our base of karyakartas in the city is intact,” a second MNS leader said.

“Many who left back then also want to come back. Amit has been holding meetings at every booth from the point of strengthening the administration, and also scouting for potential candidates from the different wards,” he added. 

Under Amit’s leadership, the party is planning a campaign along the lines of five years of MNS rule versus five years of the BJP. 

MNS leaders say Raj Thackeray could also give the reins of the MNS’ students’ wing to Amit, especially after the incumbent president of the unit, Aditya Shirodkar, joined the Shiv Sena earlier this month.

Raj Thackeray is on a similar three-day tour to Pune, holding meetings with party workers and activists. 

Amit Thackeray’s political journey

While Amit has been spotted campaigning for the MNS intermittently, he formally entered mainstream politics only on 23 January 2020, Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s 94th birth anniversary. 

Raj Thackeray had exited the Shiv Sena in 2005 after his uncle Bal Thackeray picked his son, the low-profile Uddhav, to be his successor instead of Raj. 

In 2020, the MNS had decided to form a shadow cabinet to monitor the functioning of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) cabinet, giving each of its leaders a portfolio to track. Amit was given the portfolios of tourism and urban development. In government, the tourism portfolio is held by Aaditya Thackeray, CM Thackeray’s son. Analysts had viewed this move as directly pitting the two Thackeray cousins against each other. 

The MNS’ shadow cabinet concept, however, didn’t take off as expected. Not a single meeting took place, and party leaders blamed the project as being a non-starter due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, despite his formal induction in the MNS and his appointment as a ‘neta’ in the top rung of the party’s leadership, Amit has not been overly vocal in politics and has stayed away from public glare.  

Since his formal political launch, he has intermittently written letters to his uncle, CM Thackeray, on issues such as declaring journalists as frontline workers for their early vaccination at a time when there was a severe shortage of vaccines, and initiating talks with private schools regarding their fees amid the pandemic.

From time to time, he has made public statements supporting bonded doctors and nurses protesting salary cuts, or government teachers protesting for several of their demands.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

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