Learning from its alliance partner’s successful use of the NaMo chant to ride to an unprecedented victory at the Centre, the Shiv Sena has decided to abbreviate Uddhav Thackeray’s name to UTha to project him as the state’s next CM. The slogan the party has come up with is ‘UTha Maharashtra’ (Wake up, Maharashtra).

Confirming this, a senior Sena leader said, “UTha is the abbreviated form of Uddhav Thackeray and, by adding Maharashtra to it, we have made it more catchy. The word UTha will be used in various slogans, another one being ‘Chala UTha, Maharashtra Ghadvuya’ (Wake up, let’s build a better Maharashtra). ‘Utha’ in Marathi means wake up and is the perfect word for us to promote both our campaign and our leader.”

Recent developments suggest that even the BJP is coming around to the idea of Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister if the saffron alliance comes to power. File pic
Recent developments suggest that even the BJP is coming around to the idea of Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister if the saffron alliance comes to power. File pic

Not long ago, the BJP had come up with the slogan, ‘Delhi mein Narendra, Mumbai mein Devendra’, hinting at the party’s state chief Devendra Fadnavis as the CM candidate. Now, when it is almost certain that Uddhav will be the chief minister of the state if the saffron alliance comes to power, the Shiv Sena is taking its campaign a step further by directly promoting him among voters.

While Narendra Modi had an arguably successful ‘Gujarat model’ to showcase to voters, Uddhav will be going into the state elections burdened with the pothole-ridden roads of the BMC, of which he has been the captain for a decade and a half. Even Uddhav’s vision document unveiled on Thursday was urban-centric and included the issue of the Bal Thackeray memorial, hinting that the party would stick to the politics of the statue and urban issues.

Experts, however, feel that hyper-local issues like potholes will not affect the Sena’s campaign. “People vote differently for different elections. When they vote for local bodies, potholes are important, but for state elections and general elections, the issues are bigger and the voters’ approach is pragmatic.

The whole campaign around UTha, which means to wake up or rise, is very RSS-centric. They always keep referring to Vivekananda, who wanted people to awaken to their potential and the world around them. The word will surely have an impact,” said senior political analyst Prakash Bal Joshi.

While agreeing that the slogan would help the Sena, other analysts feel it is also an attempt by the party to project confidence and show the BJP that it is still the bigger force in the state. “The Congress is on the wane and the tussle now is between the Shiv Sena and the BJP.

Because the BJP wanted to have an upper hand and has been demanding equal seats in the state, the Sena’s campaign is aimed at showing that it is ahead of its alliance partner in every aspect.

This campaign will help rejuvenate party workers and also make many in the MNS think of rejoining the Sena, because it shows that Uddhav is in complete control of the party and the leadership is centralised.

Even before the BJP could come up with a good slogan, the Sena has brought out this one. The results of the campaign will be known soon,” said Dr Jose George, head of the Civics and Politics Department at the University of Mumbai.

BJP unhappy?
The BJP, on its part, has said the Sena’s timing could have been better. “Shiv Sena’s hurry to announce its leader as the CM candidate is understandable, but the timing is wrong. While people are aware about the corrupt practices of the Congress-NCP government, in Mumbai, at least, the issues of bad roads, water cuts and bad infrastructure are uppermost in people’s minds. However, this campaign will surely be a hit in the rest of the state, where our alliance is not in power in municipal bodies.”