As we approach closer to the state assembly elections in Maharashtra, political parties have certainly shifted gears to face the upcoming electoral challenge in the critical western state. Of the new faces taking the spotlight in the run-up to the elections is surely Thackeray scion Aditya Thackeray, grandson of Balasaheb Thackeray and son of current Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is poised to be the first from the Thackeray family to contest elections from Worli since the formation of the party in 1966 by Balasaheb Thackeray.
This move by Shiv Sena to field a Thackeray family member in the elections not only is a deviation for the party from decade-old traditions but also is an indication of rapidly changing political dynamics in the state.
Nonetheless for the Thackeray family, being behind the scenes and pulling the strings while another face takes the elected position has been the norm. Over the long electoral history of Shiv Sena, neither Balasaheb Thackeray nor Uddhav Thackeray has ever contested elections or taken any political posts.
The Thackeray family has maintained that working for the welfare of people comes first and politics comes later; which over time has helped Thackeray family keep a clean image and enjoy massive public support.
Balasaheb Thackeray in his long political career brought in many candidates and propelled them to prestigious political posts while keeping a safe distance from the political accountability and responsibility that comes with those posts nonetheless keeping the covert authority with himself.
The controversy surrounding the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Manohar Joshi is one that gives a deep insight into the function of the Shiv Sena led by Balasaheb Thackeray. Despite being made the Chief Minister, Manohar Joshi was always in the news for the sourness between him and the Thackeray family.
Manohar Joshi’s comments during the Enron controversy when Enron officials, led by Rebecca Mark had skipped him and directly met Balasaheb Thackeray was another public exposition of the feud, “I’m not someone who can be remote-controlled”. Manohar Joshi had said. Certainly, given the political realities of the state, the Enron officials knew where the real power centre resided, several media reports at that time had also pointed towards the same.
Nonetheless, for the Thackeray family, this strategy of maintaining distance has paid off huge dividends, while all the credit of good work done by the government was naturally diverted to the Thackeray family. On the other hand, the administration was left hanging to feel the burnt in case of any mishap. This also insulated the Thackeray family from any allegations of corruption as only person answerable was the one who had taken the post of Chief Minister at that time.
Now with changing political dynamics and newfound political aspirations, Thackeray family is set to take the electoral plunge with Aditya Thackeray taking the lead and even staking an indirect claim for the Chief Ministers post despite his short career in the complex Indian political scene.
“Of course, the Sena will have a chief minister. And it has been decided between BJP president Amit Shah Ji and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Ji.” Aditya Thackeray had said during an interview. However it remains to be seen how the story of the 2019 Maharashtra state assembly elections unfolds and if Aditya Thackeray will be taking political responsibility, nonetheless with this the long-standing insulation of the Thackeray family from political accountability certainly will come to an end.