Aaditya’s moment in the sun: How Ayodhya visit marks coming of age for Thackeray scion

After being in his grandfather and father’s shadow, the moment is finally here. Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra tourism minister and Shiv Sen...

After being in his grandfather and father’s shadow, the moment is finally here. Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra tourism minister and Shiv Sena scion, will make his way to Ayodhya today on his first solo trip.

The Shiv Sena is making Aaditya’s visit to the temple town in Uttar Pradesh a grand show of strength — about 8,000 party workers are expected to go to Ayodhya from Mumbai and Thane alone.

A senior Shiv Sena member was quoted as telling The Print, “This is Aaditya saheb’s first trip by himself. He had visited Ayodhya earlier, but that time Uddhav saheb was in the lead. Whenever Shiv Sena leaders go outside the state, our karyakartas (party workers) follow, but this time there’s so much more enthusiasm among the cadre.”

“When Aaditya saheb goes to Ayodhya, the number of Shiv Sainiks present there will be much higher than even when Uddhav saheb undertakes such visits.”

As the young Sena scion makes his way to Ayodhya — he is expected to make a road trip from Lucknow and carry out a daylong visit, culminating with an aarti on the banks of River Sarayu — here’s what we know of his trip and the significance of it.

Chalo Ayodhya!

Earlier, Aaditya Thackeray was expected to visit the temple town of Ayodhya on 10 June. However, that was pushed due to the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra.

Later, on 6 June, Sena spokesperson and veteran leader Sanjay Raut announced that the Sena scion and Maharashtra minister would be visiting Ayodhya on 15 June and that it would be a grand event.

This is Aaditya’s first solo visit to Ayodhya, however, it’s not his first visit; he has accompanied his father Uddhav Thackeray to Ayodhya on two occasions — 24 November 2018 and 7 March 2020.

Massive preparations have been taken for the 32-year-old state minister’s visit to Ayodhya and Sanjay Raut left for Uttar Pradesh on Monday to ensure the visit goes without a hitch.

Raut told reporters in Lucknow, “A team from Nashik has also come for preparations. As have we (from Mumbai). Thousands of Shiv Sainiks are expected to come from Nashik, Thane, Mumbai and other places. We have booked trains, flights. Few buses would have already left.”

According to reports, the party has booked two trains from Mumbai, which can accommodate approximately 1,700 party members each. Many others have already made their way to Ayodhya by bus.

As per Aaditya’s itinerary, his Ayodhya visit will began at 11 am when he touches down at Lucknow airport. At 3.30 pm, the Maharashtra minister will hold a press conference, following which he will visit the ISKCON temple, Ram Nagar.

At 5.30 pm, Aaditya will do a darshan of Ram Lalla at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi, Ayodhya and it will be followed up by an aarti at the Sarayu River. His one-day visit will end at 7.30 when he departs from Lucknow.

Aaditya’s moment is here

That Aaditya would play some role in politics was a given, considering his family lineage. It was in 2010 that his grandfather, Bal Thackeray, handed him a symbolic sword at the party’s annual Dussehra rally, launching him as the president of the Yuva Sena.

Since then, he has grown into his politics and has nurtured his skills and evolved as party’s bridge to the future.

He moved away from controversies, such as the banning of Rohinton Mistry's novel Such A Long Journey from the Mumbai University syllabus, and focused on urbane and youth oriented issues.

He has been instrumental in opening up several public parks, sporting facilities in Mumbai. He can also be credited with the beautification of Worli — his constituency in south Mumbai.

The young Thackeray also played a key role in protecting the Aarey forest. For those who don’t remember, there were plans to axe over 2,500 trees at the Aarey Aarey Milk Colony for the metro carshed.

Aaditya had extended his support to activists opposing the cutting of trees at Aarey Colony area and called the action “shameful and disgusting”.

Significance of Ayodhya visit

While Sanjay Raut has reiterated that Aaditya’s Ayodhya trip isn’t politically motivated, political pundits and observers say otherwise.

Many believe that Aaditya’s visit is well-timed, as it comes ahead of the high-stake election of Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

The Sena is already on the back foot for the polls as it faces fire from Mumbaikars for poor condition of roads, flooding, water-logging and poor drainage system.

Moreover, Aaditya’s visit comes at a time when the Sena has been attacked on the issue of Hindutva by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirma Sena (MNS). Both parties have accused the Sena of not following the ideology of Hindutva and indulging in appeasement politics, especially on the issue of azaan being played out on loudspeakers across the state.

With inputs from agencies

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