Mumbai: Capping days of speculation, the Shiv Sena on Sunday said it has decided to field Aaditya Thackeray, the elder son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, from the Worli assembly constituency in Mumbai. With this, Aaditya has become the first member of the Thackeray clan ever to contest an election.
Talking to PTI, a close aide of Sena chief said, "Aaditya Thackeray's name has been finalised for the Worli assembly segment. Shiv Sena's sitting MLA Sunil Shinde will vacate his place for Aaditya."
"Worli is considered one of the safest constituencies for the Sena, hence Aaditya's candidature has been finalised. Former NCP leader Sachin Ahir had recently joined the Sena, which will make Thackeray's win easy," he said.
Ahir had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 assembly election against Sunil Shinde. Ever since the Shiv Sena was founded by late Bal Thackeray in 1966, no member of the family had contested any election or held any constitutional post.
Uddhav's cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray had announced his intention to contest the 2014 state assembly elections. However, he had later changed his mind. If Aaditya wins the election, he will be the first member of the family to represent the people.
The Shiv Sena has been projecting him as the chief ministerial face if the NDA returns to power after the next month's assembly polls. Uddhav Thackeray had on Saturday recalled the "promise" he had made to his late father Bal Thackeray to install a 'Shiv Sainik' (party worker) as the chief minister of Maharashtra.
His statement had come against the backdrop of the BJP top brass repeatedly stressing that incumbent Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would helm the state once again. In July, Aaditya has launched a state-wide 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' to thank the electorate for their support in the last Lok Sabha polls and to seek their backing for the upcoming Assembly elections.
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday also issued A-B form to other Sena leaders, a mandatory document to confirm the candidature of a person representing the party. The names include, Minister of State for Water Resources Vijay Shivtare (Saswad in Pune district) and MoS Animal Husbandry Arjun Khotkar (Jalna, in Jalna district), the Sena chief's close aide said.
"Most of the sitting MLAs of the party will contest the election this time as well. There are some senior Sena leaders, who were defeated in the 2014 assembly election. It is yet to be decided on their future as whether they will continue to be the member of Maharashtra Legislative Council or not," he said.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP and the Sena had contested separately over a dispute over sharing of seats. The BJP won maximum 122 out of 260 seats it had contested while the Sena bagged 63 out of 282 seats. Both the parties later joined hands to form a BJP-led government.
(With PTI inputs)