Aaditya Thackeray
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray | ANI Photo
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Aaditya Thackeray is just 29-years-old but has already outdone his father and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, uncle Raj Thackeray and grandfather Bal Thackeray by being the first Thackeray to contest and win an assembly seat. Often seen driving around Mumbai in his BMW that apparently cost just Rs 6.5 lakh because, of course, the Thackerays are so hard pressed to accumulate wealth that they buy second-hand cars, Aaditya Thackeray is the new young gun in Maharashtra politics who isn’t playing by the rules.

In a parallel world, imagine Congress leader Rahul Gandhi going on a night out with a young and good-looking Bollywood actress. News channels would’ve gone into a tizzy. Anchors would’ve snapped their veins by shouting at the audience to look at the Gandhi brat painting the town red with an actress. They would’ve declared Rahul unfit for politics and guffawed at his audacity. Media would’ve announced his nikaah or Christian wedding, whichever religion works better for your imagination or hatred, since his janeu has been dismissed by half of India’s population. Rahul Gandhi would’ve been the butt of all jokes.


Also read: Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray won’t be CM, but he is teaching Congress a lesson in politics


A SoBo boy, not a political leader

But Aaditya Thackeray seems unapologetic about his life. He has been spotted with actress Disha Patani and seems unaffected by people’s opinion.

This is also perhaps why no one is taking him seriously in politics, which is all about perception. And Aaditya Thackeray’s image so far is of a boy who is being pitched for a man’s responsibility he isn’t capable of undertaking yet. Sounds familiar? It’s no surprise that Home Minister Amit Shah refused to give in to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s demands of making his son Aaditya, and not BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, the CM. In fact, NCP-Congress too didn’t really warm to this suggestion and pushed Uddhav Thackeray, the once reluctant son of former Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, to become the CM.

Aaditya Thackeray brandishing a bracelet studded with 555 diamonds is everything that an Indian politician shouldn’t do. Having written a book of poems and penned lyrics for a private music album, Aaditya Thackeray is just another boy that fits the SoBo culture rather than Maharashtra’s legislative assembly.


Also read: This is what Uddhav Thackeray’s CM rule will mean for NCP, Congress & BJP


Vibrant nightlife activist

It’s only fair that Uddhav Thackeray hustled so hard for his son because he had Rahul Gandhi’s example in front of him. After all, Rahul’s political journey is more a warning than a model for others.

If Rahul’s career would’ve started in 2009, he wouldn’t be struggling to create support for himself today as a national leader. He even lost Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani. That’s how much Rahul Gandhi’s image has cost him. The Burberry jacket-wearing Gandhi scion has got everything on a silver platter. Aaditya Thackeray fits the same bill, which is why Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap was heard calling him Shiv Sena’s Rahul Gandhi on a live show.

Consider yourself warned, Aaditya. It doesn’t take long for youth to be dismissed in India’s geriatric politics. We forgive the old netas for much more and are less generous toward the young.

But then, Aaditya Thackeray is quickly reinventing how young politicians can appeal to the youth — 50 per cent of India’s demography. Aaditya has been instrumental in pushing for a better nightlife in Mumbai by allowing later hours and lighter restrictions for people to party. With the example of New York and London, he pitches the idea of a vibrant nightlife for a better economy. It can’t get more millennial than that.

However, Aaditya Thackeray’s politics isn’t without irony. He spoke against the cutting down of Aarey Forest trees for a metro car shed while his party Shiv Sena was in the very government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that was instrumental in felling the trees.


Also read: Not Amit Shah nor Pawar, history’s Chanakya was more than just an Indian Machiavelli


Practising secularism for a change

But perhaps Aaditya’s ‘yuppie-ness’ is the makeover the party needed. Actually, this is a contrast to Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party’s image. Rahul needed to show he is aam aadmi and shed his ‘yuppie-ness’ by doing MGNREGA labour work years ago and sleepovers in rural homes. But all that Aaditya needs to do is show he is not a violent vandaliser of cinema halls and shops.

In the run-up to the 2019 Maharashtra assembly election, we saw the Shiv Sena once again play the Hindutva card by demanding the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. However, the party made the biggest mistake here. Shiv Sena has been the party of the ‘Marathi Manus’ – the guys who beat up Biharis and ‘UP ke bhaiyas’ in Maharashtra to show them who is the boss. By turning to Hindutva, Sena strayed away from the Marathis.

Now, Maharashtra only had to choose between a regional party offering Hindutva and a national party offering Hindutva. No one can beat the BJP at Hindutva, which is why Shiv Sena would’ve been defeated after this election, even if it was in the government this term.

The Shiv Sena, though reportedly reluctant initially, now stands by a common minimum programme that claims to uphold “secular” values. This is a first for the Shiv Sena since it was founded in 1966 because it has never been secular.

But then it has promised jobs for local people, and with that, the Shiv Sena has once again brought the Marathi people at the centre of its agenda and set it itself apart from the BJP. No, Shiv Sena is no longer just Maharashtra’s ‘BJP lite’.


Also read: Shiv Sena was hated by Indian liberals as extremist Hindutva party. Now, it’s their darling


It is here in this Venn diagram of Hindutva Lite, secular and Marathi Manus that Aaditya Thackeray can reinvent the Shiv Sena, and himself.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

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16 Comments Share Your Views

16 COMMENTS

  1. For Author, Half knowledge is always dangerous so were ‘Biharis and UP ke Bhaiyas’ for Maharashtra. People from these states are uneducated, lack the importance of cleanliness-hygiene and have no respect for women (rapes and violence against women rates are highest in UP, Bihar, Haryana, Delhi-NCR). Our Movement started against these people and criminals who flee from such region were threat to our people’s jobs and our women. Our people live a better quality of life than avg people of North Indians creating struggle for our happy life & making our heaven like cities populated. Recently, movement against these people have started in Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh (CM Kamal Nath Words) and South India not only from Maharashtra and Goa. Also no businessmen wants to reside in North India as Chief Ministers like Nitish Kumar don’t think of development even after finance from central government is more. We have started unique projects like Hyperloop, Airports for all Districts till 2027, E-Transport till 2022 and major infrastructure projects from our state-owned money even though it flooded contributing always more to our Country’s GDP than others. There are few things to criticize too like lack of attention towards farmers but we are far better than ‘Rapist Biharis and UP ke Bhaiyas’ .

  2. I think the author doesn’t know much about Maharashtra or else she would not have written an article like this. Also Shiv Sena was born out of the social reform movements of Maharashtra mixed with the Sanyukta Maharashtra Andolan. It can’t get more socialist than that! Hindutva is a late addition to the Sena’s repertoire and it was primarily adopted by the party to prevent the BJP’s growth. You must Google Prabodhankar Thackeray (father of Bal Thackeray). He was the first person to launch an anti Brahmin agitation (even before Shahu or Ambedkar)!

  3. Feels like 16th century India. And tells you that India is a young democracy which will take years to shed the slave mentality love for Dynasty.
    The press need to educate but unfortunately press in India is a paid mouth piece of political party , that Dynasty is counter productive and bad for democratic India.

  4. Before we had kings and queens..now we have dynasties. For these dynastic childrens in India, it is their birth right to become CM’s and PM’s. The power struggle in Maharashtra was to put third generations of Pawar and Tkackeray scion’s into limelight. All media is focusing on the scions. For the common people what it means is; after Uddhav, Aaditya will be ruling for next 50 years and then his children or Pawars children and grandchildren. In the olden days kings would settle their disputes amoung themself in whimsical ways without giving a damm about praja, now the dynastices settles matter amoung themselfs so that by hook or crook power always remains with them.

  5. Nicely written on young politician of Shiv Sena, but comparing him with Rahul Gandhi and other young and dynamic leaders of Congress is meaningless.

  6. Gandhi scion comes from a clan that promised ‘Garibi Hatao’, so has the sense of being politically correct when he wears his crumpled khadi in public appearances in India. Who knows what he does in Bangkok, and honestly who cares (except that how he manages it in a MP’s salary), when the constituents who were promised garibi will vanish are still grappling with bread (not butter) issues. As far as Thackeray scion is concerned, it is power built on bullying and coercion. In your face, no need to be subtle/covert has always been the family’s philosophy.

  7. WHY DOES THIS AUTHOR ZAINAB SIKENDER NORMALISE UGLY CORRUPTION
    A MUSLIM WHO IS THE VARNISH WOMAN FOR THE SHIV SENA
    This type of dynastic politics akin to a banana republic has to END, the author fails to mention this.
    This lady eulogises this thief from the Shiv Sena a fascist party.
    In the Bombay riots 700 people were killed, these riots were mostly orchestrated by the Shiv Sena.
    The thugs of this party have murdered and terrorised people.
    It shows much about the moral scruples of the author who fails to mention these things happened.
    A Billa and Ranga would fill one with revulsion, but not here, but the sheer banality of writing of Sikendar Zainab seems to give a clean chit to the abomination that the Shiv Sena and its fascist leadership.
    I suggest she visits Bombay and gets the facts from her brethren Muslims who were at the sharp end of Sena attacks, before deciding an angle to an article on the leader of this organisation.

    • A Sarkari Muslim much akin to a Jew writing about about the the Nazi leadership’s fast cars and youthful high living instead of Nazi concentration camps killing Jews.
      The Siv Sena is a murderous organisation which killed Muslims during riots ordered by the leadership.
      Our good Muslim lady seems blind to this in her article.

    • Has Zainab Retweeted the Brave Rana Ayub and the excellent article in the New Yorker. Or is this Sarkari Musalmann so overcome with envy towards a Muslim journalist who fights for her community under attack from fascism.

  8. “It is here in this Venn diagram of Hindutva Lite, secular and Marathi Manus that Aaditya Thackeray can reinvent the Shiv Sena, and himself.” <- The author should consider making similar Venn diagrams of other politicians / maybe just dynasts? If this type of reinvention (big if) is an indication of things to come, the it would be interesting to experiment with some sort of predictive semantic network model. Who is winning and why? Who is saying what and will they win? And for extra fun compare predictions from the model with poll based predictions. Coming back to the article. Excellent observation. It's true Mr. Gandhi has never been able to live like he wanted to. I guess because he was never able to speak to his constituents otherwise. Never understood why he simply didn't / doesn't run from Delhi.

  9. No one would grudge Shri Rahul Gandhi letting his hair down occasionally, in Bangkok if Delhi is too staid for him. What Indians worry about is what he does during the course of a working day. 2. Like a nuclear submarine that smashes through a sheet of thick polar ice, the Congress party has a lot of natural buoyancy. It is being held down unnaturally.

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