With the Shiv Sena's Aaditya Thackeray already on a 4,000-kilometre yatra of Maharashtra ahead of state elections, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis too has announced a massive tour that is going to crisscross the state. Both the Shiv Sena and the BJP are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to as many voters as possible in the months before the election.
Aaditya Thackeray and Mr Fadnavis are describing their tours as "pilgrimages".
Speaking to BJP workers on Sunday, Chief Minister Fadnavis, who is seeking a second straight term despite alliance partner Sena making a pitch for his job, announced his outreach programme in which he will travel across the state. "From August 1, I will begin my Maha Jan Aadesh Yatra. We have got the mandate of the people. The people of Maharashtra voted us for the national elections. Now we need their mandate for Maharashtra. That's why we are going on this yatra," he said.
"When people embark on a yatra they do it in the name of god. Our yatra, is also for our god, because our true god is the people of Maharashtra. We are embarking on this yatra for the 'darshan' of our people," the Chief Minister added.
Mr Fadnavis's yatra will see the chief minister travel 4,232 kilometres covering 30 out of 36 districts in Maharashtra in one month. It will begin from Gurukunj Mozari village in Amravati district on August 1 and the chief minister will hold 104 public rallies and address 228 gatherings in villages along the route. Mr Fadnavis will cover 152 Assembly segments out of 288 in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena and the BJP, who had an extremely acrimonious relationship ever since they formed government together after going their separate ways in 2014, had patched up right before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections which paid off as the alliance swept the state. The alliance is expected to continue for the Assembly elections as well but the Shiv Sena has been posturing itself as the party that will give the state its next chief minister. Devendra Fadnavis has ignored the Shiv Sena's noises and said he will return as Chief Minister of the entire alliance.
Meanwhile, Aaditya Thackeray, the Shiv Sena's youth leader and son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, also describes his ongoing in yatra in similar terms.
"Whoever wants to join in is more than welcome. We want to listen to the people's voice. Normally we go to them during elections and tell them what is on our minds. I am trying to figure out what is in their minds, their aspirations for the new Maharashtra I am trying to build. For me personally, this is a tirth yatra (pilgrimage). I am seeking everyone's blessings, and for those of us in politics, our real god lies in the people."