Interview

‘The Shiv Sena is going national’

Three months short of turning 25, which will make him eligible to contest elections, young Aaditya Thackeray, chief of the Yuva Sena, gave an email interview to Alok Deshpande on his foray into electoral politics, the future of Shiv Sena’s politics, and his pet project of promoting Mumbai’s nightlife. Excerpts:

You are the young face of a party which is always accused of hooliganism or undemocratic protests. While you were the reason why the Shiv Sena had to change its stand on Valentine’s Day, you were also accused of wanting to ban Rohinton Mistry’s book Such a Long Journey. How do you want to see your party in the next decade? Are you comfortable with the Hindutva tag or feel that politics should go beyond religion?

The Valentine’s Day protests stopped almost a decade ago. As for the book, I’ve mentioned earlier that I am never for banning any book. It was removed from the syllabus because many students and teachers complained about its content being forced as syllabus. There isn’t anything wrong in defending my beliefs in my religion. The Hindutva of Shiv Sena has been crystal clear: it is to be defended when under fire. It isn’t against any other faith or religion. But the party has never believed in the politics of appeasement. Its governance in 1995-99 has been crystal clear and just for all citizens, working only on the development front.

Surely, the Shiv Sena is going national, expanding its base in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. These are the States where it has gained a good ground and is expanding, and other States will follow. Political successes come when one becomes a prominent force; however, in each of these States we have been raising issues successfully.

Our focus as of now is to improvise and follow up on the work we have taken up and deliver on the promises made.

Tell us about your proposal for promoting nightlife in Mumbai. It is alleged that you are doing it for the sake of the hoteliers’ lobby.

The nightlife proposal for Mumbai is very clear. It is a proposal for the economic and social revival of a city that is forced to sleep, and yet doesn’t sleep behind close doors. As per my proposal, all eateries, cafés, shops, milk vending shops, chemists, malls, theatres and gyms in non-residential areas of Mumbai will be given an option to stay open all night.

Malls could be declared as Special Entertainment Zones as they are self-sufficient in terms of security, parking, and noise control and are spread across the city. Public beaches such as Juhu and Girgaum could be open all night.

This proposal will give a boost to tourism, business and revenue for the government and thus create employment.

Nothing that is deemed illegal by the courts and the police will be allowed. However, Mumbaikars need time to unwind after work, and that is what I want to give.

Mumbai’s strength is safety; we need to utilise it for Mumbai’s betterment. I want each and every Mumbaikar, from every strata of economy, to live and love Mumbai.

We have a list of issues from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, right from allowing rooftop restaurants to installing LED lamps, where the Sena and the BJP are pitted against each other. What’s wrong with the alliance?

The alliance is between the two parties, coming together for progress. Neither is chained to the other’s views. There are bound to be differences of opinion on some issues, and since it is a political alliance and deals with people, the views will be public. Whatever are the views, they are already in the public domain.

Sena Ministers in the State Cabinet are not happy with the treatment they receive from the BJP. Do you believe that with all these differences and problems, your government will complete a full five-year term?

I believe this question will be better answered by the Honourable Ministers than me. I will focus on the issues I have chosen to find answers to.

Even your letter to Narendra Modi about security issues at the Juhu airport has gone unanswered. What’s the status on that?

I guess there must be some lapse in the communication or it must be under process. However, I will make another representation to the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Home Ministry soon.

How do you see the performance of your government in the past four months?

I can speak for the performance of our Ministers and it has been on the track of development — be it the Health Ministry working on various initiatives like Telemedicine in remote areas of Maharashtra or the Industries Ministry reducing licences required from over 70 to 25 now. Similarly the Transport Ministry is working closely on increasing the efficiency of the RTOs. MSRDC (the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation) has taken up the initiative of improving the road safety standards on its highways and expanding size. The Environment Ministry has focussed its agenda on reducing the emissions and incentivising clean industry zones. Yet, this is the work that’s just begun.

The next BMC election in 2017 is seen extremely crucial for you and your party. Will you be leading the party for these elections?

Every election is crucial. The BMC elections are two years away, and everyone is trying to speak about its work midterm. By the end of the current term, our work will speak well for us.

Have you ever given a thought to contesting the election? If yes, have you decided on it?

As of now, I am three months short of (25 years) being eligible to contest elections. I may contest elections; haven’t decided as yet.

What is your opinion on the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Shiv Sena coming together? Do you and your father discuss this issue of bringing the family together?

Too much speculation. I choose to focus on the work that I have taken up to serve the people. These policy issues aren’t my jurisdiction.

Given a chance, what else would you like to do apart from being a politician?

I love being what I am today. I don’t know if it is exactly a politician, but I love working for the people and getting things done. To be able to contribute to the nation, the state and the city and its people gives me a great sense of happiness. Apart from that, I indulge in writing poems and photography. alok.deshpande@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 9:28:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/the-shiv-sena-is-going-national-aaditya-thackeray/article6963530.ece

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