- The 29-year-old set out from Jalgaon, flanked by senior Shiv Sena leaders
- Aditya Thackeray plans to travel in a customised car with Sena branding
- In Maharashtra, polls are due later this year
Aditya Thackeray, the Shiv Sena's youth leader and son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, started today a tour aimed at launching him as the party's chief ministerial face.
A day after leading a farmers' rally in Mumbai with his father, Aditya Thackeray began his tour of Maharashtra, where polls are due later this year. The 29-year-old set out from Jalgaon, flanked by senior Sena leaders like Eknath Shinde and Ramdas Kadam. Also seen with him was Sureshdada Jain, a senior politician from Jalgaon who has changed parties several times.
At the launch of the rally, Aditya Thackeray said, "Today is the start of the beginning of an effort to take the Shiv Sena into every home in Maharshtra. Only then we can build a new Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena stands for youth, farmers and women. We are a party that brings solutions. For me this is not a tour to seek votes. For me this is a pilgrimage. Over the years I have learnt how to find solutions from my father and grand father."
The intent of the tour was evident from local legislator Kishore Patil's speech at Jalgaon. "We want to see Aditya Thackeray as the Chief Minister of the state," he declared.
Yuva Sena office bearer Purvesh Sarnaik told NDTV, "Aditya ji has already established himself as a leader across the state. Every Shiv Sainik wants to see him as Chief Minister and all Shiv Sainiks will abide by whatever decision our party chief, Uddhav ji decides."
The 4000-km journey across Maharashtra will see Thackeray junior reach out to Sena cadre and voters in general.
Aditya Thackeray plans to travel in a customised car with Sena branding, which has been created for what is called the "Jan Ashirwad (public blessing) tour". He will meet farmers, labourers and businessmen and address meetings during pit stops along the rally routes, Sena leaders said.
Speaking at the rally to launch the tour, Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut said, "Aditya Thackeray is clear about why he is organising this tour. It is being organised to thank those who have voted for the Sena and appeal to those who haven't voted for us. We appeal to the people of Maharashtra to bless us under the leadership of Aditya Thackeray."
Many Sena leaders believe Aditya Thackeray, who is being projected as Uddhav Thackeray's successor, could be chief ministerial candidate if the party manages to emerge as the single largest, a spot it lost to saffron partner, the BJP in 2014.
Speaking to the crowd as the sun briefly went behind the shade, Aditya Thackeray said, "In this hot afternoon the sun has disappeared. This is what happens when the Shiv Sena provides shade. The time for the Shiv Sena has come now."