If Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray thought that managing the party after cousin Raj’s exit in 2006 was a tough challenge, he should be bracing for tougher times.
The demise of Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Sunday has left him to prove that he is the next able flag bearer for the saffron brigade. And Uddhav will need to assess how he is going to face this challenge.
“Till now, we were thinking about Balasaheb and our loyalty for him, and his assurances kept us in the party. But now we are waiting to see how Uddhavji performs and what plan he charts out for us without Balasaheb,” said a senior Sena worker from Thane who has been in the party for the past 25 years.
The Sena chief in his last video address to the Sainiks at the October 24 Dussera rally urged them with folded hands to stand by his son Uddhav and Aditya, just as they stood by him. But will this convert to an everlasting loyalty?
“Not really,” says political expert Surendra Jondhale. “Today, people want results, and a charismatic leader. He [Uddhav] needs to identify the young and dynamic minds in his party and build a team. And most importantly, he needs to have a definite strategy on how to tackle Raj Thackeray to prevent large-scale defections,” Jondhale added.
But senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi does not think Raj will be a threat.
“Uddhav has a style which is different from that of Balasaheb, but that in no way shows that he is inferior. Aditya has also got a huge youth following to counter others,” Joshi said.