You have much to learn from your grandfather, start by reaching out to people like him
I hope you are high on adrenaline after a grand celebration that marked the 50th foundation day of the Shiv Sena, which is expected to march ahead under your leadership in future.
Six days before Sunday’s political gala, you turned 26 - a milestone that a modern-age political heir should find perfect for proclaiming the maturity enough for accepting challenges that a street-fighter sainik wants you to deal with efficiently as their next ‘King’.
I avoided your 298k-follower twitter handle to communicate simply because I believe a majority of sainiks who admire your family too do not use it. I think your media manager knows this handicap, and hence passes your micro messages onto us in media with a request to publish. This doesn’t mean you deactivate your social media tools. But this definitely means that you need to find out some tried and tested ways that your illustrious grandfather Balasaheb used in reaching out to the people, who may even die in executing the commands given by the Thackerays.
Please understand what sainiks expect of you. I refer to your series of tweets on a school van that violated traffic rules the other day. I think you were traveling on the same road. What would your grandfather have done? A Sena leader told me, “Balasaheb would have asked his aides to chase the violator down and hand him over to traffic police, but not before giving the erring driver a piece of his mind.”
What did you do? Before tweeting you forgot that the transport department is headed by a Sena leader! You lost out on an opportunity to show that you care for Mumbaikars and their school-going kids. You should have reached out to your massive online following with an action-taken report from transport department.
Old timers tell us that the art of connecting with people came naturally to your grandfather, who built the Sena on the strength from commoners. They say your Kalanagar residence would be open 24x7 to distressed people, who would leave happily after pouring their hearts out to your grandpa. The situation is changed now in view of the high security that surrounds your family, but it’s time you discovered some method to let people access you fearlessly.
Fortunately, the Sena still has some people-friendly leaders remaining in its lower ranks. Imagine what it would do to the party’s morale if you were seen out on the streets amidst common people, instead of inaugurating fancy gyms and pitching for nightlife. Your grandfather too had friends in Bollywood and the corporate world, but he never disappointed sainiks.
It’s time you started visiting the shakhas that have kept the Sena’s heart beating. Reach out to distressed people, in Mumbai and smaller cities, and in rural areas where the sainiks feel neglected because of the Sena’s Mumbai-centric internal politics. Bridge the widening gap between the urban and rural rank and file. The sainiks are raring to go (you witnessed this on Sunday) but they may not know which way to move forward.
As you prepare for next year’s civic polls, you need to resolve Mumbai’s problems that are blamed on your own people in the BMC. The city wants a Thackeray scion to be a combination of a tech-savvy CEO and a street-smart (not a rowdy) sainik, who makes their living conditions better. People believe that some people in the Sena are ambitious in installing you as Maharashtra’s CM. I assume that you are studying the changing patterns of politics. Challengeswill come from within the Sena but also from within your family. Please understand that the way ahead will be as bumpy as the umpteen roads that the Sena-ruled BMC has constructed across Mumbai.
Politically yours, A Shiv Sena observer
Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org