Yuva Sena chief and Maharashtra’s environment minister Aaditya Thackeray appear to have taken it upon himself to liaise with the party organization, from visiting a Shiv Sena employee at the hospital to meeting with party officials in the constituency of a rebel group. As political unrest in Maharashtra escalates, Aaditya Thackeray tries to reach Shiv Sena employees. Biggest collapse ever. “Those who have run away call themselves rebels. If you had been real rebels, you would have dared to come face to face and tell us of your intention. Those who have left must resign and take part in the elections. Let us see if you can win this election without Shiv Sena. We will beat you,” Mr. Aaditya said at a celebration rally in Mumbai on Sunday.
Aaditya faces the arduous task of regrouping the struggling party after 39 MLAs left to join hands with the rebel Deputy Commander Eknath Shinde. To avoid a vertical split within the party organization, Mr. Aaditya appears to be acting as party chairman, and Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s fragile health may restrict the latter’s movements. The junior Thackeray is calling on party employees to respond forcefully to the “betrayal” and using aggressive language in his speeches, making it a point to visit places and building the confidence of party employees from the areas where the MLAs have the party dumped and joined the rebel group.
On Monday, he visited families of police officers living in BDD chawls in his Worli constituency. He announced that he would cut the construction costs of the newly developed homes to ₹25 lacks from the previous ₹50 lacks. He also traveled to neighboring Karjat to visit a party official hospitalized after being attacked. “He does not meet any workers and is not traveling for the first time. But there is a qualitative difference between the two. Previously he was focused on Yuva Sena; this time, it’s Shiv Sena. The preference given to Yuva Sena’s new cadre within the party is one of the reasons for the current state of the party. The old guard wanted more control over government and party organization,” said Sanjay Patil, a researcher at the University of Mumbai’s Department of Citizenship and Politics.
According to Mr. Patil, who has written a thesis on the Sena, the lack of access to the leadership is not a two-and-a-half-year-old phenomenon in the party. “When it became clear that Uddhav would replace Balasaheb, Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray revolted. When Aaditya was promoted and started getting involved, Shinde rebelled. The problem is that Sena’s top leadership has not learned from its mistakes. I think it’s time for Aaditya to introspect and make changes,” he added.
A Sena corporate body from Mumbai accepted, on condition of anonymity, that access was an issue for them too, but he has no confusion about who will be the party’s next leader. “The future is Aaditya. But I wish he would travel more and expand his circle within the party. It must be understood that the party must also target its voter from the countryside. Those who joined Shinde were all from rural Maharashtra. Aaditya will have to work on this,” he said.