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Cub bares his claws

He may be talking reforms and discipline, but the newest Thackeray is walking the all too familiar Sena line

mumbai Updated: Oct 23, 2010 21:30 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

When he is attending classes at the St Xavier’s college in South Mumbai, he is just another 20-year-old. Here, the third year history student spends his time attending lectures, submitting assignments, participating in college festivals and having endless conversations with buddies in the canteen.

His love for writing poems — he has already penned a collection titled My thoughts in white and black — and passion for photography is well known amongst his peers.

But things are about to change for Aditya Thackeray, the third generation scion of the powerful Thackeray family, and now the head for Shiv Sena’s youth wing or the Yuva Sena. The youth wing was launched at the Sena’s traditional Dussera rally last week.

“I have been rushing to the Sena Bhavan (party headquarters) from college every afternoon and planning for the big day for a long time now. We have so many things to do,” the unassuming light-eyed lad told HT last week, dressed in a bright Spiderman T-shirt and blue denims.

His core team, all youngsters, are sitting around him, helping him finalise the manifesto, the membership details and the finer nuances of the launch programme.

“Yuva Sena is all about ‘hosh with josh’ (meaning measured enthusiasm) to make the youth socially active and politically aware. This will be a platform to groom the Shiv Sena’s young cadre till the age of 38,” Aditya explains.

For starters, this young Turk already has a few ‘feathers’ in his cap. He recently got the Mumbai University Chancellor to drop the book Such A Long Journey (1991) by Rohinton Mistry from the second year syllabus, alleging that it had derogatory references about the Sena chief, the famous dabbawallahs of Mumbai and the Marathi manoos.

But for junior Thackeray, the issue is over. “There is a lot to do — education reforms, examination reforms, fee hike, employment issues, improving hygiene and sanitation standards in education institutes and a campaign against caste-based census, it’s all on the manifesto,” he says.

Interestingly, his grandfather, the founder of the Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray was against floating a Sena youth wing in his heyday, reason being that the Sena was “anyway a youth party”.

But with time, things change, Aditya says. “Sena is changing as per the changing times and that’s why my grandfather has agreed to a youth wing of the party. He loved the name ‘Yuva Sena’ and has even helped me finalise the font for the name,” he says.

But insiders say the reasons for launching the Yuva Sena is the result of a lesson that the Sena has learnt the hard way. “It is creating the next generation leaders and conditioning them for easy acceptance in the mainstream party,” said a Sena insider.

Otherwise, the situation becomes like Uddhav, who found it very difficult to find his feet as the new leader.

Another reason is to attract the youngsters who now prefer Raj Thackeray’s aggressive Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Political commentator and former journalist Aroon Tikekar says how Aditya’s political career will shape up is unpredictable. “I have not seen much of him. Initially, I thought he was a modern boy with a national vision. However, his reaction to Rohinton Mistry’s book only shows he is a typical Thackeray — a chip of the old block,” he said.

Many in the Sena are excited over the Thackeray grandson’s entry in the party. Anil Desai, general secretary, Shiv Sena, says that with good political guidance from his grandfather and father, Aditya will do well.

He has already taken up several issues that concern students and the youth and has been successful with them. “The Yuva Sena is meant for youngsters in the party who are looking at entering the main party eventually,” he says.

On his part, Aditya is trying to show that he is ‘different’ from a typical politician. He has put down some rules for the Yuva Sena. “As part of inter-party discipline, no one will put up posters for anybody’s birthday. Instead, donate the same money for a social cause like educating a child,” says Aditya.

So what keeps this youngster grounded? After all, it’s obvious that a 20-year-old such as him would feel good to see his posters pasted all over the city. “It is all due to my mother,” he says.

“She always keeps reminding me that I am no one, atleast as of now. I have to prove myself and achieve a lot to become someone and this is only the beginning.”