Backstabbing, terrorising, weak. Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray uses strong words to describe the BJP and its leaders in an exclusive interview with mid-day. The young Thackeray launched a savage attack on the BJP’s policy decisions, calling it environmental destruction. “Today they are providing Wi-Fi hotspots, tomorrow they will have to provide oxygen hotspots,” he said.
In conversation with Aaditya Thackeray at Matoshree. Pic/Rane Ashish
We are barely a week away from the civic elections. What is the emotion in the Sena camp?
The adrenaline is pumping. We are moving ahead and going in alone for the first time in 25 years, leaving behind someone who has backstabbed us.
Why did the BJP-Sena alliance come to an end?
For us, it was an emotional alliance. In the last 25 years, the BJP trajectory has always grown on Shiv Sena’s strength. Yet, there were numerous sainiks complaining that BJP - at the centre and state - never worked with Sena. In an alliance, you need to be loyal to your partner, which they weren’t.
Is it on the cards to create a stronger Sena presence in Delhi?
Why not? The Sena is probably the only regional party to have a national non-electoral presence. It is time to expand. For us, Delhi is a major stage. I have always followed the Parliament when it is in session. The move is still a couple of years away, but when the time is right, we will go national.
Why haven’t you gone national already?
We never wanted the BJP vote bank to break. Even though we were not in alliance outside the state, we always followed the alliance dharma of being loyal. We had an unsaid rule about not poaching each other’s people. In retrospect, this move made us fall behind, while the BJP marched ahead on our strength.
What is your view on the upcoming civic election?
It is a make-or-break election for the BJP. In a local election, voters do not care about your national view or your take on foreign policy. This election has to be based on who works for the city and who provides better utilities and amenities. For us, education is a prime focus - we want to make the best schools in India. The Sena is a party that has served the city for 50 years against other parties whose leaders don’t even reside in Mumbai. Being a Twitter party is one thing but what you accomplish on the road is what actually counts.
What do you think will be the result of the election?
We don’t believe that Mumbai will give a fractured verdict - the city will support Sena.
What is the worst-case scenario you foresee, post the election?
If the Metro project goes through, it will result in around 5,000 trees being cut. This is because of haphazard planning and having a zero sustainable development model. They do not even know the city and have termed environmental destruction as development. Today, they are promising Wi-Fi hotspots; tomorrow they will have to provide oxygen hotspots. The BJP keeps saying that all permissions are in place, but the CM himself has had to go back on his words and say that some permissions were still pending from the Centre, with regard with the coastal road. It is a highly hypocritical and opaque government at the centre.
What is your take on Mumbai’s nightlife and how do you plan to improve it?
Mumbai has always been a city that runs day and night. Mumbai has never been a curfew city, but today, it is a city where the home minister is weaker than ever before.
There has been some noise that you might want to join the Vidhan Sabha as an MLC. Is that true?
I have never been imposed upon [by family members] to stand for Vidhan Sabha or not. In the same manner, I have never been averse to contesting for BMC either.
What is your take on demonetisation?
If demonetisation was the answer to terrorism, then the US would have done it a long time back. Today, the PM is terrorising the common man, while the Swiss bank accounts remain untouched. He is peeping into everyone’s rooms and asking, “Ghar mein kitna paisa hai?”
Nashik goes to election at the same time as Mumbai. What do you think will be the result there?
For the last five years, there has been a breakaway faction of the Sena ruling Nashik. Yet, there is a current trend of corporators jumping from the ruling party to the opposing party in Nashik. This time, there will be a monumental shift of power in Nashik - only because of the work that has been done there by us. In politics, you cannot really go beyond a certain number of years with just marketing gimmicks - the groundwork also has to be fit.
Word is, your cousin Amit is unwell. Will you visit him?
I don’t think he is in the city. We have been looking at reports and asking about his health, but want to respect the family’s privacy.
In the last three generations of the Thackerays, has there been an ideology shift?
There has been a shift, but we’re just keeping up with the times. The issues my grandfather took up in the ’70s to ’90s were relevant to that period. He always managed to grasp the pulse of the time, which is why there were scores of youth with him at rallies. He has always been open to change and being relevant to the times. Even when I started the Yuva sena, he never once told me that I must not change this or that.