Shiv Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray was at a party-organised students’ interaction in Yavatmal on August 25, talking about exams and semester system shortfalls when a political question threw him off balance. The region has seen a spike in farmer suicides and a student, Rahul Patil, wanted to know why the Sena had not withdrawn support to the Devendra Fadnavisled BJP government over the issue. Aaditya lost his cool and asked the student which party he belonged to. He later tried to explain how the BJP-Sena government was farmer-friendly, how it had distributed seeds, fodder and fertiliser and constructed ponds, but by then the 500-strong audience had gone cold on him.
Aaditya, the elder son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, has been on a statewide ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ to get feedback on people’s expectations from the party. It has created some curiosity among party sympathisers, but has been unable to offer more than freebies like loan waivers besides making claims that the Sena was a catalyst in getting crop insurance worth Rs 960 crore to 1 million farmers. At the Yavatmal gathering, when a student pointed out that there were frogs in the college water tank, Aaditya assured him he would send a water purifier in five days.
Aaditya’s promotion has been the Shiv Sena’s biggest gamble in the run-up to the Maharashtra assembly election. A source in the Sena says Uddhav wants Aaditya to be his eyes and ears as there are restrict