Yuva Sena President and son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Aaditya Thackeray has been campaigning in Mumbai's Worli, from 7 in the morning, where he is contesting Maharashtra elections from. "Everyone's given me their love and the seniors are there to guide me. They are encouraging me to take up this challenge," the 29-year-old says.
Speaking to NDTV while reaching out to voters at the Worli Sea Face promenade, which is a popular morning walk destination, Aaditya Thackeray says he's hardly slept over the last few days due to the hectic campaign schedule for Monday's election.
"You cut down on sleep and travel more. Yesterday we travelled to seven places. Today we are travelling to four more places but the best part of this is there is no lack of energy at this time. Everyone is buzzing with energy. It's almost like a festive time. Last night I slept at 2:30 and woke up at quarter to five this morning".
Aaditya Thackeray's candidature has been endorsed by actors like Sanjay Dutt and Jackie Shroff. Yuva Sena secretary Varun Sardesai shared videos of the actors sharing their message with Aaditya Thackeray as they recalled their association with the Thackeray family over the years.
"Aaditya Thackeray is like a younger brother to me. He comes from a fantastic lineage. I can never forget the support Balasaheb extended to me and my family and he was like my father. Uddhav bhai is the same. I wish Aaditya wins with a huge margin because we need young and dynamic leaders in our country. Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra," Sanjay Dutt said.
Jackie Shroff added, "All the best and many congratulations to Aaditya. Keep inspiring everyone. You have to serve and you have joined politics at the right time. 65% of India is young and under the age 35 and India is young. You talk about issues like plastic and cleaning up the planet. You're fabulous brother and keep rocking. May you enrich your mother, your father and your grandfather's name."
Aditya Thackeray left for Pune to campaign immediately after the morning walk outreach programme where he interacted with senior citizens, young voters and college students who were exercising at the open gymnasiums set up under an initiative pushed by him. Talking about a 24x7 Mumbai, he told NDTV, "It's about all of us working all night. You are NDTV 24x7, we work 24x7. The point is how you chill after your work hours. This idea is only for non-residential areas, mostly in malls and mill compounds which are dotted across all over Mumbai. Look at the night time economy of London. You have the night tube, ancillaries and supply chains. With this move, we can increase revenue and our employment rates."
Aaditya Thackeray also spoke on the trees that are being cut in the Aarey Colony to make way for a metro car shed and insisted on saving it.
Aaditya Thackeray is the first of his family to contest an election in the five decades since his grandfather Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena. He is likely to get a walkover in Worli; it is a Sena stronghold and the only opposition, NCP's Sachin Ahir, crossed over recently.
The decision to field Aaditya Thackeray marks a significant departure for the Sena's first family, which has always limited itself to campaigning for candidates.
Sources say junior Thackeray, groomed to take over the Sena one day, has been working up to the moment, emerging as the affable, softer face of a party known for its unabashed pro-Hindu agenda. He was appointed the youth wing chief by Bal Thackeray nearly 10 years ago. Earlier this year, he took out a Jan Aashirwad Yatra, a mass outreach that combined thanks-giving for the national elections with appeals for votes in the Maharashtra polls.