Bal Thackeray’s death is not just the loss of a parent for Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, it brings with it the huge challenge of meeting the expectations of Shiv Sainiks who have loved, respected and sworn allegiance to his fiery, charismatic father.
Though Uddhav took over the party’s second highest post in 2004 and even won elections, he has so far been perceived as piggy-backing on his father, whose oratory skills, outspokenness and accessibility helped him cross the finishing line.
With senior Thackeray gone, Uddhav has to face several challenges, say experts.
First, he has to be able to convince Shiv Sainiks that as party chief he is capable of winning elections.
He also needs to identify and groom the second rung of leadership.
The third challenge would be to counter his cousin, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, whose looks and mannerisms are similar to Bal Thackeray’s.
“Uddhav needs to get to the drawing board immediately and chalk out a strategy to retain his party the way his father has left it,” said political expert Surendra Jondhale.
Senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi does not feel anything will change in the Sena. “Keeping the future in mind, Balasaheb charted a way ahead for Uddhav, which he has been following and winning,” he said.