Are we going to witness Uddhav Thackeray 2.0?
It could be too early to say this, but it appears now that Thackeray wants his government to deliver. He wants to deliver resultsUpdated: Dec 10, 2019 01:18 IST
In the past two weeks, Uddhav Thackeray has done things which he had never done earlier.
On December 6, he visited a room in erstwhile BIT (Bombay Improvement Trust) chawl in Parel where late Dr BR Ambedkar had lived for some time. As chief minister, he also paid a customary visit to Chaityabhoomi (Dr Ambedkar memorial at Dadar) on the occasion of the death anniversary of the architect of India’s Constitution.
While at Parel, Thackeray announced that the historic spot at BIT chawl would be fitted with a national monument. His response to demands for a review of cases filed against Dalit activists in the Bhima-Koregaon violence episode was also prompt. It looked like Thackeray was attempting to reach out to the socially backward classes. This is significant considering the animosity that once prevailed between Shiv Sena and the Dalit outfits in the state. There were violent clashes between the two in the past. With his recent gestures, Thackeray has created an impression that he wants to bury that past and start afresh.
At the same time, Thackeray, who did not seem too keen to accept the post of chief minister, is now taking his job seriously. Since November 28, when he took over as chief minister, he has held a series of meetings to review the functioning of various departments of the state government and also to discuss issues, including a proposal to give aid to farmers. Mantralaya officers say Thackeray has been taking interest in knowing how various departments function and the procedure of taking decisions.
These reports indicate that the Shiv Sena chief is slowly donning a new role: A politician who can not only run his party but also run the state.
Unlike his father and Sena founder, late Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray is adopting a new role. He has attempted to follow in his father’s footsteps since he took over the reins of the party — first as working president and after his father’s death in November 2012, as his successor. He adopted the Hindu hardline agenda, maintained a friendship with the BJP, and often came down heavily on Congress-NCP. Just like his father, he stayed away from positions of power even though the Sena was in power from the Mumbai civic body to the Central government, mostly in alliance with the BJP.
Things changed after October 24, the day the results of the Assembly elections in Maharashtra were announced. Irked with BJP’s denial that it had offered rotating chief ministership to the Sena, Thackeray eventually walked out of the alliance and took the support of Congress-NCP to form a government. NCP chief Sharad Pawar and leaders of Congress-NCP compelled him to take up the top job.
It could be too early to say this, but it appears now that Thackeray wants his government to deliver. He is adopting a moderate agenda. He wants to be known as a good administrator. For him, it is no more only about running the party. Now he wants to run the government and deliver results.
His close aides are not surprised by the efforts Thackeray is making. “His father preferred to wield the remote control but Uddhavji wants to handle the government himself. He has before him the examples of regional parties such as Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party in UP, DMK/AIDMK in Tamil Nadu and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. Whether it was Mamata Banerjee or Mulayam Yadav or Mayawati, they have the image that they can be chief ministers and run the state with ability. It helps them to have a statewide appeal,” said a close aide of the Sena chief. “Since he has got that opportunity, Uddhavji wants to establish a similar image.”
Will Thackeray be able to achieve the same?
His road could be full of obstacles. He is running a coalition government of three parties which may or may not last the full term. Given the status of the state’s finances, it would not be easy to show the results in governance. Further, the Sena has not been able to provide glaring examples of good governance while running the civic bodies of Mumbai and other cities.
Uddhav Thackeray 2.0 could be a lot of work for the Sena chief.