Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya will start his mass public contact programme from Jalgaon on Thursday afternoon. This is for the first time that someone from Sena’s first family is undertaking a political yatra to reach out to the voters — both to consolidate and seek new constituency.
The yatra assumes significance in the wake of state assembly polls that are slated to be held later this year.
The Shiv Sena contested the last assembly polls separately, breaking its three-decade-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Getting fewer seats in the elections, it was forced to play a minor role with the BJP emerging as the bigger partner. The Sena’s relationship with first BJP chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, has been rather strained. The two parties though came together earlier this year to align for Lok Sabha polls.
The next flashpoint between the two allies were the elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has been controlled by the Sena for decades now. Sena’s numbers in BMC came down drastically with BJP breaking its alliance for local body polls.
Another challenge for Sena has been building from within, with Uddhav Thackeray’s estranged cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray campaigning aggressively for the NCP-Congress alliance. Raj recently met Sonia Gandhi in Delhi amid speculations that MNS may formally join the opposition alliance against BJP and Sena.
The first phase of Aaditya Thackeray’s yatra will start from Jalgaon and cover five districts of North Maharashtra — Jalgaon, Dhule, Nashik, Ahmednagar- in the next five days. It will be a multi-phase journey wherein the Thackeray scion will cover nearly 4,000km across Maharashtra. He will address public gatherings, hold chowk sabhas and meet party workers during the yatra.