Nine years ago, in 2010, Shiv Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray had problems with a particular book being a part of the Mumbai University curriculum.
The Booker-nominated novel, Such A Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry, was taken off the syllabus, despite being part of it for three years earlier, following protests by the students' wing of Aaditya’s party.
Then, a 20-something Aaditya was gearing up for a grand launch into politics, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Bal Thackeray, and his father, Uddhav Thackeray.
In the nine years since, Aaditya has proven to be the Shiv Sena’s trump card in extending the party’s reach to an oft-ignored section of the Indian population, a section that is taken for granted in all ‘New India’ talks — the new Indian youth.
In December last year, Aaditya played his biggest hand.
In a letter to Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, Aaditya requested him to “allow Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune and all other such cities that wish to celebrate New Year's Eve to be open to all legal activities of entertainment and celebration, especially in non-residential areas.” The letter was widely shared on the Internet, his intentions were applauded, but it failed to change anything.
It did, however, make it clear that Aaditya Thackeray wants to build an image for himself that’s different from what one would usually associate with the Shiv Sena — moderate, modern, aware and youth-centric.
What's more, Aaditya 2.0's urban-centric approach also helps the party stay a step ahead of the BJP.
But with a focussed outlook on Worli — where the Youth Sena chief is likely to contest the 2019 Assembly polls from.
What’s happened with the dog in Worli is not just sad but immensely disturbing. To think that such inhuman behaviour exists towards creatures taking shelter during rain. I would want to see that the man responsible for it is punished with maximum penalty.— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) July 30, 2019
Aadtiya took to Twitter recently to slam the thrashing of a stray, now known as Lucky, outside Turf View, a high-rise in Worli. On July 24, a day when Mumbai received particularly heavy rains, a street dog was brutally beaten up by the building guards for trying to shelter from the downpour. Over 500 Mumbaikars and animal lovers alike gathered outside the building on Tuesday, July 30, protesting this brutality, and film personalities from Anushka Sharma to Sonam Kapoor, condemned it sharply on social media.
Clearly, Aaditya’s finger is firmly on the pulse.
He inaugurated a special free bus service today in Worli for school girls — and shared pictures of it on Instagram. Aside from being socially aware, the fact that he makes it a point to stay so active on social media shows he wants to stay connected with the youth, and knows exactly where they are and what appeals to them.
And the youth seems impressed. As is Sachin Ahir, senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, who joined the Shiv Sena last week on July 25. “Impressed by Aaditya Thackeray's work,” Sachin was quoted in a Mumbai-based tabloid.
“Opinions and facts should be treated differently,” Aaditya had said in a 2010 interview to IANS about Rohinton Mistry’s book.
My opinion is that Aaditya stands for change.
The fact is that there’s still a long way to go.
For now, we’re happy it’s a start towards the right direction.