Aaditya Thackeray, head of Shiv Sena’s youth wing, is contesting Maharashtra assembly polls from Mumbai’s Worli constituency. A third generation Thackeray in politics, he is now the first one from the family to contest an election. His decision comes in the backdrop of erstwhile junior partner BJP’s ascendancy in state politics. The seat sharing pact between BJP and Shiv Sena not only make clear that the latter has accepted the change in status, it has also been willing to concede ground in its urban strongholds. In a conversation with Amin Ali, Thackeray gave his take on alliance dynamics and his own agenda.
Your opponents say Shiv Sena has well and truly accepted BJP as a senior partner and conceded seats even in strongholds like Pune and Navi Mumbai. How do you counter that perception?
It speaks volumes about our loyalty in friendship with the BJP and commitment to the nation. We came together on shared values of serving the people, be it the Ram Temple or removal of Article 370 or even farmers and supporting sustainable urbanisation. Seat sharing is a political adjustment, and had we been selfish, the alliance wouldn’t have happened.
Your entry in electoral politics is termed by many as admission of the fading grip of Sena over state politics. What’s your response?
I’ve never heard this before, nor can an intent to serve people through a legislative process be seen that way. By that means, all those who contest elections are from weak parties? I don’t think people are naive enough to believe whoever is trying to spread this hilarious statement.
In recent Aarey protests, Sena – a partner of BJP government both at Centre and state – was taking a stand against its own government. How do you explain this contradiction to people?
This isn’t a Shiv Sena versus BJP issue. It’s people versus destruction. Aarey isn’t about not wanting the metro. We all want the metro. This is about not wanting to destroy an ecosystem that exists there, and the stubbornness of the MMRCL (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation) to do so. Aarey has a leopard, Luna, with her 9 cubs, along with the endangered rusty spotted cat. This plot is also the flood plain of the Mithi River. The MMRCL can either choose to not be dictatorial and listen to the people, or simply declare that this one opaque agency is all for pushing global warming and disregards all our global commitments to fight climate change made over the past few years.
What are some of the main priorities of Aaditya Thackeray – the MLA – for Worli and Mumbai?
My main priority will be to hear the unheard voices of the people and take it up in the house. It is a huge platform for work. There is a path charted out with urban planners and economists for the same.
You’ve been active in asking for a vibrant nightlife and round the clock operations of shops and restaurants in Mumbai. What are your plans for vibrant nightlife in the state?
Mumbai 24/7 is an idea to bring about an expansion in Mumbai’s tourism and service sector in nonresidential areas. We are a city that doesn’t sleep, and works hard. We need time to chill. Also 24/7 shops and establishments would mean more employment, revenue and businesses prospering. Currently, Mumbai has five lakh people hired directly in the service industry. That would see a huge rise. As well the ancillary industries and the supply chains.
Similarly, the whole state of Maharashtra can be developed for tourism on various special aspects of each region, be it eco-tourism, beaches, treks or history and culture.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.