He was speaking at a Changemakers session at the Hyderabad campus of GITAM (Deemed to be University)
Hyderabad, April 2023: Terming the current Maharashtra government as “highly autocratic, highly dictatorial and opaque”, young political leader and President, Yuva Sena, Aaditya Thackeray said on Tuesday that “there’s only one Shiv Sena, the others are gaddars (traitors)”. This follows a massive political dispute and split in Shiv Sena in 2022. “They have tried to steal everything from us, they’ve tried to steal our party logo and party name. They’re trying to do everything they can. But the fact of the matter is: Someone who has run away with everything can only be tagged as a chor (thief), nothing beyond that,” he added.
Aaditya Thackeray said this while interacting with the students of GITAM (Deemed to be University) at the Hyderabad campus, as part of a Changemakers session moderated by Smita Sharma, visiting faculty, Kautilya School of Public Policy. The Changemakers series by GITAM (Deemed to be University) aims to bring dynamic insights from national and global leaders.
“It is sad to see that Maharashtra — which was competing amongst the top five states in the COVID times and was one of the top players in terms of investment, tourism, sustainability, urban growth — is now lagging behind. During our time as the NDA government, we saw zero incidence of communal violence, everyone worked together, the state has 6.5 lakh crores as investment coming in, we had multiple MoUs for factories coming up there. Today, look at where Maharashtra is. We have an unconstitutional government, which is keeping aside the constitution and running a government which is highly autocratic, highly dictatorial, and opaque. We’re not one of the most attractive states for investment, because of political instability,” said the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and MLA from Worli, Mumbai. He added, “At least some people in the past had the guts to call an Emergency an Emergency — Today we’re in an undeclared Emergency. To completely knock out any opposition and alternate voices is troublesome for a country.”
Reaffirming his faith in people and judiciary, Thackeray iterated that it’s very crucial to see which debates we choose for ourselves. He shared, “What we engage in our country today is religion vs religion, region vs region — everything apart from the core issues. Are we debating unemployment, inflation, and problems we face as citizens? We’re not debating the right things, we’re fighting over something that happened 50-60 years ago, over the personalities that lived 100 years ago or whether some king/emperor did the right thing. But we are not fighting for the future. What will our future generations think?”
Marketing and electoral politics
For Thackeray, marketing is taking over today’s world. “In our country, if you market yourself well, you can be successful without ever having done anything in life. The younger crowd today is seeing through all of this. There was a certain phase in our electoral history when marketing was everything. Now I think people are judging us on our work. We may be brilliant orators with fiery speeches or not, (but you must) finally convey to people what you have achieved in your public life,” he shared.
Tech and innovation on Indian campuses
When asked if he sees technology becoming the new identity of India moving forward, the Former Tourism & Environment Minister of Maharashtra said, “Every year, when I open the TIME magazine’s list of innovations, I see they are mostly from the universities or schools from across the world. We, as a country, are falling behind in the area of innovations, most of our innovations are not happening in our schools or college campuses, because we do not have the scope, syllabus, or power to question things. We have set notions and we are going about with that. I think trusting younger people to innovate, find solutions and bring change is very crucial.”
Having been a student of history at St. Xavier’s College and Law at Kishinchand Chellaram Law College in Mumbai, Thackeray also interacted with the students during the session, reminiscing his college days and personal life. From overcoming stage fright and how his grandfather Bal Thackeray pushed him to publish his first poetry book to experiencing the Mumbai Local as a regular Mumbaikar, he touched upon a wide range of issues.
When asked about a disconnect between politicians and the public, the young political scion iterated that: “One thing my father has told me is that posts, positions of power keep coming and going, but what you are is what you remain to people. Remain anchored to the ground. Normally, people think that once you become a politician or CEO, you should stop visiting theaters, malls, or cafes. That’s when you disconnect. Remain on the ground and get the pulse of people.”
Passionate about climate change solutions, he said, “History gives you an insight into the past from a different perspective. Tomorrow, we are going to fight over water, heatwaves, and cold waves and the common cause is climate change. We need to start acting on our mitigation and adaptation measures.”
Answering a question on AI and politics, Thackeray said on a lighter note: “I think with the current way politics is being conducted, people will soon choose Artificial Intelligence (AI) over politicians!” He added, “I believe that the only profession that can have an impact on a billion lives in India is politics. How, for whom and why you conduct politics is very crucial. AI is, again, going to be dictated by the inputs going in it. If politics can positively sync with tech and corporates, that’s the way forward.”