While all eyes are on the Uddhav Thackeray side of the family and son Aaditya, another son is making a reappearance on the state political scene. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s son Amit has set off from Konkan and has been holding meetings in Sindhudurg district as part of his first big tour as head of the party’s students’ wing.
Amit, 30, had made his political debut for the first time a decade ago, when he had appeared at an MNS roadshow before the 2012 BMC polls. However, he had taken a backseat after that, saying he wanted to pursue studies. Then, in July 2014, when the MNS student wing or the MNS Vidyarthi Sena held its first rally, Amit had made an appearance.
Forced to take a backseat due to illness, Amit has now re-stepped into the thick of things at a time when Raj Thackeray is recovering from a major surgery. The fact that the Uddhav-led Sena is floundering in the face of a debilitating split is unlikely to be mere coincidence. With Aaditya fronting for his father as the Sena fights for its turf, Amit to the fore adds frisson to the state and family tussle.
However, like that side of the Thackeray tree, Amit’s rise is being watched warily by party workers here. As head of the MNS Vidyarthi Sena, he had replaced Aditya Shirodkar. The son of Raj’s friend Rajan Shirodkar, Aditya had fallen out of favour with the MNS chief and finally left the party and joined the Shiv Sena in 2021. A commerce graduate, Amit is married and has a son.
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While MNS leader and former MLA Nitin Sardesai calls Amit a “crowd puller” and “a leader in the making”, a party functionary says the 30-year-old is held back by the same issues which plague offspring of politicians. “The late Balasaheb and Rajsaheb Thackeray could attract masses because of their oratory. Amit still speaks Marathi in an accent, and needs to correct that to connect with the people. Plus, one of the big reasons holding back Aaditya is that his friends all move in elite circles, giving him fancy ideas. Amit should learn a lesson from this and be with leaders on the ground,” the MNS leader said.
Another leader, on condition of anonymity, points to another problem of political dynasts like him. “Amit lacks consistency. He supported beach cleaning, and then remained silent on the issue,’’ the leader said.
Like Aaditya though, elder to him by two years, Amit frequently takes up environmental causes, including opposing the Metro car shed at Aarey.
One of the first tests for Amit will be the civic polls in December. The MNS has been on the downslide and, with few star campaigners left, will bank on Amit to shoulder a lot of the responsibility.
MNS general secretary Nayan Kadam said Amit was conscious of the need for change and has started implementing the same. “He is mixing with the workers and youth leaders of the MNS Vidyarthi Sena. He talks to college students too. And he patiently hears people, unlike Uddhav, who ignored Sena workers.’’ The rebel MLAs who brought down the Uddhav-led government have cited his “inaccessibility” as a major factor.
MNS general secretary Rita Gupta, who heads the party’s women’s wing, said she had seen Amit evolve over the years. “Recently, while reorganising the Mumbai unit of the MNVS, he filled up posts by conducting interviews himself and showed a personal touch.’’
However, another MNS worker worried that Amit too is now surrounded by a coterie that is “misguiding” him. “Similar thing had happened with Aaditya earlier, when he promoted his cousin Varun Sardesai.”
Samajwadi Party MLA Rais Shaikh too has a word of caution for Amit. “He must learn from the failures of other politician sons and daughters who lived on their legacy and failed to make a mark. People are mature now and want to see politicians on the ground, listening to their issues. He must frame his party’s policy on the voice of people and not just go with the flow on Hindutva,’’ Shaikh said.
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