Mumbai: Yuva Sena leader Aditya Thackeray has done what no other Thackeray did before him - hit the road in a grueling 4,000 km long 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' ahead of the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections.
The official aim is to "thank" the voters for the support given to the party candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections besides projecting him as the party's nex-gen leader.
The unstated intention is to unveil the party's future 'Chief Ministerial face' though the 29-year-old Aditya has repeatedly ruled out harbouring any such ambitions.
The first phase of the tour which started on Friday will take him to parts of north Maharashtra like Jalgaon, Nashik, Nandurbar, Dhule, and other districts when he will prepare the groundwork to help Sena candidates secure big wins in the Assembly polls.
"The tour will help Aditya understand the challenges facing the rural masses, the changing political scenario in the state which was ruled for many decades by the Congress and plan for the future to hoist the Sena flag over Mantralaya, said a party leader.
Making the best of his trip in a modified van, Aditya meets, addresses and interacts with simple rural folk, labourers, farmers, tribals, women and youth in small towns, local business communities, party activists and supporters.
Occasionally, he even stops the vehicle and hops down to interact with small groups of people he encounters on the roadside or in small village squares and seeks their blessings.
He makes it a point to mention that he has come to "thank" them and not seek votes for the party, and solicits their support to help the Sena build a 'new Maharashtra' for all.
However, party activists unabashedly portray him as the 'next CM of Maharashtra' and return to the glory of 1995, when the first Shiv Sena-led saffron government took office, but the second time the party lost the race narrowly to ally Bharatiya Janata Party.
Making an early start, the Sena hopes to use this 'soft campaign' as a base to connect with the voters in maximum number of the 288 Assembly constituencies over the next few weeks. The next phases will see the Sena's Young Turk embark on a tour of Western Maharashtra Konkan, Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
He is accompanied by senior leaders like ministers Ramdas Kadam, Eknath Shinde, Suresh Jain, Sanjay Raut and other leaders will join him as the tour progresses, said a spokesperson.