In an attempt to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Varanasi constituency, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is likely to campaign for Sena candidates in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Party insiders say this is also the Sena’s attempt to assert that ‘Hindutva’ remains its core agenda.
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The Sena has already announced that it will field 150-odd candidates in the UP elections, and even brought some of the sitting legislators and senior leaders into the party fold. According to the plan, which is yet to be finalised, Uddhav is likely to perform a ‘Ganga aarati’ in Varanasi and also visit the Ayodhya temple site. “Uddhav ji has given his approval to organise the ‘Ganga aarati’ in Varanasi. It will happen soon,” says Vinay Shukla, Sena coordinator for North India.
Shukla says the party president would also campaign for the Sena candidates fielded in the UP Assembly elections. Recently, five-term legislator and BJP leader Ramsevak Patel joined the Sena after he was denied a ticket by the BJP. Patel is Sena’s candidate from Badaun Assembly constituency in UP. Besides, Mahesh Narayan Tiwari, a BJP strongman from Gonda, has joined the Sena and is the party’s official candidate there. Sena has also fielded candidates in other segments, including Gaurav Upadhyay from Lucknow Cantonment.
Sena leaders say it is an attempt to send out a message to the BJP that the party can take on the BJP not only in Mumbai or Gujarat but also in North India, including UP. “This will be for the first time in Sena’s 50 years that the Thackeray family will be campaigning in UP. The message is loud and clear that Hindutva is and will remain our core agenda,” says Shukla. According to party sources, Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray may also campaign for the UP polls.