The launch of Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray’s statewide tour, ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’, in Jalgaon on Thursday saw Shiv Sena leaders project him as their chief ministerial candidate ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections.
“This is a tour of victory of Sena’s future chief minister of Maharashtra. Public sentiment is that Aaditya should become the chief minister and lead the people of Maharashtra. The state is looking at Aaditya with hope,” said Sanjay Raut, MP and Sena leader at the rally in Pachora.
“The tour will cover all 288 Assembly segments. We will thank people wherever Sena has legislators and we will win over the minds of people in other areas,” he added.
Local Shiv Sena legislator Kishor Patil said the saffron flag will be hoisted atop the state Assembly after the coming polls. “All Shiv Sainiks feel that Aaditya should become the chief minister,” Patil said.
People started gathering at the rally venue from 11 am onwards; while it was supposed to start at 12 pm, it was delayed by two hours. The gathered crowd sat below trees on the ground adjoining the road. Sena leaders repeatedly requested people to sit at the ground, but due to the heat, they did so only after Aaditya arrived.
The Yuva Sena chief was felicitated with a shawl, a sapling and a symbolic bullock cart. “This tour is not for any election or post. I don’t want to become anything. I want to create a new Maharashtra and this is the opportunity for it,” he said in his 10-minute speech.
He further said the tour is to thank the Shiv Sainiks and leaders who worked to send Sena MPs to Delhi, and to seek blessings of the public.
“Had my grandfather Balasaheb been alive, he would have asked me to go and thank people who voted for us during Lok Sabha polls. So, without thinking about the auspicious timing, I have started this tour,” said the Yuva Sena chief.
He reiterated that the tour is neither an election campaign nor intended to seek votes. “For me, it is a theerth yatra. You (people) are my god. I have started my journey to seek your blessings and make new Maharashtra,” he said.
Aaditya said Sena’s ideology is to “resolve the issues and problems of the people”.
After the inaugural rally in Pachora, Aaditya started his tour in a customised vehicle with a convoy comprising Sena leaders and police. He was welcomed at Bhadgaon, Kasoda and Erandol. He also planted a few trees at Bhadgaon. At a few places, he was stopped by party workers and accepted their felicitation. Aaditya also addressed a rally in Dharangaon before travelling to another location towards Dhule.
In its first phase, the tour will cover four districts — Jalgaon, Dhule, Nashik and Ahmednagar — in five days till July 22. Apart from Raut, senior Sena leader and MP Gajanan Kirtikar, ministers Eknath Shinde, Ramdas Kadam, Gulabrao Patil and others were present during the speech.