Mumbai: Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, the elder son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, presented with a sword as he announces his candidature from Worli seat for upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections during a rally, in Mumbai, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Aaditya will become the first member of the Thackeray clan ever to contest an election. (PTI Photo) (PTI9_30_2019_000265B)
Mumbai: Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, the elder son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, presented with a sword as he announces his candidature from Worli seat for upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections during a rally, in Mumbai, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Aaditya will become the first member of the Thackeray clan ever to contest an election. (PTI Photo) (PTI9_30_2019_000265B)

Mumbai: Now that Aaditya Thackeray has announced his debut in electoral politics, Shiv Sena has decided to position him not just as the party mascot but also as its Chief Ministerial face.

In the midst of the hype, as Aaditya's high-decibel rally got underway on Monday, the Sena and the BJP formally announced their grand alliance but without spelling out the seat sharing formula.

With the Sena’s new political face gleaming on the horizon, the demeanour of the party seems to have changed to that of one staking its claim to the most coveted post in the State. Hereafter, it will be interesting to see how the cold war between the alliance partners pans out.

"Aaditya will be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Though Chandrayan-2 could not land on the moon due to technical reasons, Aaditya is like a rising sun which will shine on the sixth floor of Mantralaya," announced Sanjay Raut, at Aaditya's rally, putting all doubts at rest.

Sena has constantly reminded the BJP of its promise to share the CM’s post – ideally, by rotation.

Varun Sardesai, the secretary of Yuva Sena and close confidante of Aaditya, had tweeted during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that the BJP and the Sena will have a revolving door for the CM.

The Sena is expected to pursue this goal in the earnest – depending, of course, on the post-poll arithmetic – after the Assembly election results are out.

Immediately after the Lok Sabha results, the Sena, especially Aaditya, have focussed on strengthening their party at the grass-root level. He has been connecting with people directly, reaching out to them to ascertain their feedback.

At the time, when CM Devendra Fadnavis was planning to organise a mass outreach programme, the Sena, too, launched a similar programme for Aaditya. Aaditya's Jan Aashirwad Yatra was silently competing with the Mahajanandesh Yatra of Fadnavis.

Aaditya'a yatra too got a huge response, so did that of Fadnavis. Despite being the first timer in the State assembly, he is being considered as a leader at par with the CM.

"We are very happy that Aadityaji has agreed to contest. He has established himself as a promising and trusted leader of the young.

In politics, a leader above 40 years is also dubbed young. But Aadityaji is indeed young and can understand the issues of the youth. He has addressed around 80 Aaditya Samwad programmes where he interacted directly with the youth," said Varun Sardesai.

Critics, however, say, the CM will be determined by the post-poll maths. Obviously, if the BJP wins 120 to 140 seats, then the prospect of the Sena getting the CM’s post are slim.

But in case the gap between the two parties is slender, Sena will insist on rotation, if the BJP wishes to share the political space with it. The Sena strategy is to ride on popular sentiment and wean away at least five per cent of these young voters,’’ Varun said, putting the game plan in perspective.

After several rounds of discussions, the Sena and the BJP have announced their alliance, but the seat sharing formula is still elusive. It was expected that both, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, will announce the seat-sharing formula on Monday; but all that emanated was a press release signed by the BJP state president Chandrakant Patil and Sena leader Subhash Desai. It confirms the formation of a grand alliance but cryptically adds that the seat-sharing will be announced later.

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