When Aaditya Thackeray had come as a guest for a panel discussion organised by Outlook, he refused to sit in front of a stand that had an Outlook cover with Rahul Gandhi’s photo (to avoid any pictures with Rahul in the background). Instead, he preferred to sit with a more generic background. If that is any indication of his acumen of positioning himself, one knows he is meticulous and careful all the time. A quality generally not associated with the party he not only represents but also leads at the youth level.
The dichotomy extends to his Twitter profile. One of his images is a typical Sena one, with a saffron scarf/stole and his hand outstretched with index finger pointing, perhaps as a gesture of warning. Another is of his smiling warmly in a check shirt.
His ways may have been hard to gauge for party workers as well as bystanders but there is little doubt about the path. Launched by none other than Bal Thackeray at the Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, complete with a sword and blessings, Aaditya has shown a keen interest in politics and consolidating his position. Although mild-mannered like his father, in 2010, Aaditya, a history graduate, “successfully” led the campaign against Rohinton Mistry’s Such A Long Journey and got it dropped from the university syllabus. That he himself was a former student of St Xavier’s College, which believes in liberal and secular education, never came in his way of establishing his political identity.
Reports indicate that Aaditya, a poet too, was responsible for the firming up of the Sena’s stand about the number of seats and the stake for the CM’s chair. If that is to be believed, it comes as no surprise that Uddhav Thackeray trusted the young Thackeray over seniors in the party to go for talks with BJP’s OP Mathur. That the talks failed may be an indication of his yet-to-be-polished negotiation skills, but it may also speak of his desire to stand his ground or his ambition—realistic or otherwise—to go solo and strong.
“So what if he is young? Don’t people say that there are too many old people in politics? He is capable and will realise Balasaheb’s dreams,” says a Sena party worker.
It suits him that identity politics has taken a backseat in the public domain over the so-called development agenda pushed forward by all parties. Among 24-hour coffee shops and creation of a theme park at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, he recently tweeted: “It is also my dream to give "research and development" more scope at university level. Young minds can give wings to our nation's progress.”
Has he already come a long way from the book-ban campaign?
"Aaditya Thackeray's use of social networks and promptness in responding has a huge connect with the youth, especially those between 18 and 24 years of age, who want to join the party. The fact that others are targeting him shows that he has emerged as a promising leader for Shiv Sena," says Neelam Gorhe, senior leader Shiv Sena
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