Rashmi Thackeray was always sure that the Shiv Sena should be ally of the BJP only if there was equality in power-sharing
Rashmi Uddhav Thackeray
From being a back-room strategist for the party and a mother, Rashmi Thackeray in recent months became one of the key architects of the Shiv Sena's decision to snap ties with the BJP and put Uddhav on the road to Mantralaya.
Sena insiders said Mrs Thackeray was always firm on what the saffron party should be looking for from its ally BJP, even while discussing the seat-sharing formula before the assembly polls. A Sena leader recalled an incident from before a deal was clinched with the BJP. "Mrs Thackeray discussed the alliance issue with Sena chief. Like every grassroots worker, Rashmi-ji was of the opinion that the party should not settle for anything less than an equal share in seats and power."
This is not the first time the Dombivali girl was taking an interest in political developments. On earlier occasions too – like when Narayan Rane quit the party or Raj decision to split and found his party – it was Rashmi who held several backroom talks and even personally called party leaders urging them to show trust and faith in the party, and specifically, Uddhav's leadership.
Rashmi Thackeray with Uddhav
Later, she did no restrict herself to back room talks, but even shared Uddhav's burdens, visiting several functions organised by the women's wing and campaigning for candidates, be it in corporation polls or assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Another party functionary said that while the common man may only see her as Bal Thackeray's daughter-in-law or Uddhav's wife or Aaditya's mother, she has a sharp political acumen.
"Her involvement in party affairs increased since the 2005 era. She certainly has a share of the credit or where the Sena has reached today," said the functionary. Those in the know said that during the campaigning phase, and even after results, Rashmi aspired to see her son Aaditya as the state's youngest chief minister. After he won the Worli assembly segment, posters projecting Aaditya, 29, as the chief minister of Maharashtra, came up all across the city.
But with ally BJP refusing to accept the Sena's 50-50 power-sharing formula, the oldest Hindutva alliance ended, and triggered the formation of a new tri-party alliance. This change meant that a seasoned hand was required to hold the reins of power, and Rashmi agreed with the alliance consensus that Uddhav was best placed to lead the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
Thus, it was no surprise to the informed observers when, on Wednesday morning, Rashmi accompanied her husband to met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, something rarely seen when a leader goes to Raj Bhavan to stake claim. It also was a clear sign that Rashmi will continue playing an active role in Sena's decisions, always unassuming and always from the background.