Raj Thackeray Launches Son Amit Thackeray In Party, With A New Flag

MNS flag: The new party flag features Chhatrapati Shivaji's "Raj Mudra" on a saffron base. A "Raj Mudra" was the royal seal used during the time of Shivaji.

Amit Thackeray said that this would not have been possible without the guidance of Raj Thackeray

Mumbai:

A new flag and a new leader -- that was how Raj Thackeray gave a facelift to his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena today. Amit Thackeray, Mr Thackeray's son, who was inducted into the party, is 27 years old, two years junior to his cousin Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Uddhav Thackeray.

Amit Thackeray's short thanksgiving speech was applauded enthusiastically by his parents, wife and grandmother, who were attending the event.

"This is my first-ever address on a public platform in the past 14 years of the party and my 27 years (age)... I am truly overwhelmed. This would not have been possible without the guidance and encouragement of Raj-Saheb Thackeray," Amit Thackeray said.

The function -- held in Mumbai suburb Goregaon before the party's plenary session -- also coincided with the 94th birth anniversary of Shiv Sena founder, the late Bal Thackeray.

The new party flag features Chhatrapati Shivaji's "Raj Mudra" on a saffron base. A "Raj Mudra" was the royal seal used during the time of Shivaji.

With the party's earlier flag having been saffron, blue and green, the switch triggered speculation about a possible consolidation of the Hindutva credentials of the party. The impression had deepened with a tweet from the senior party leader Amey Khopkar. His Hindi post read, "Jay Hindawi Swarajya".

Ahead of last year's assembly election, Raj Thackeray had sided with the opposition and his repeated attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had been widely circulated on social media. He was also said to be keen on joining the opposition alliance. But the idea was turned down by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, in view of the party's anti-migrant rhetoric.

Raj Thackeray had launched the new party in 2006 after his split from the Shiv Sena. The feud started after party patriarch Bal Thackeray chose his son Uddhav Thackeray to lead the party. Since then, the cousins have been chasing the Marathi vote and taking swipes at each other.

Now, with the BJP out of the ruling alliance, the race appears to be on for the saffron-Marathi votebank. Uddhav Thackeray is expected to visit Ayodhya after he completes 100 days in power, the Shiv Sena has said.

A buzz about a thaw started last year, after Raj Thackeray accepted his estranged cousin's invitation to his oath ceremony and was given a seat on the stage.

But that doesn't seem to have materialised yet, with Raj Thackeray now seemingly working on a rebranding which many say is backed by the BJP.

Inspite of the attacks on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah during the Assembly elections, former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis met Raj Thackeray earlier this month.

A BJP leader on the condition of anonymity told NDTV, "It takes a Thackeray to tackle a Thackeray," referring to the challenge to the BJP from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who walked away from the 25-year-old Sena-BJP alliance to come together with the NCP and Congress as the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi.

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