Invoking the regime of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena on Thursday, January 23, unveiled the party's new saffron-coloured flag with a Shivmudra print.
Thackeray also launched his 27-year-old son Amit Thackeray into politics at the party's first mega-convention in Mumbai. Amit Thackeray's name was announced by a senior leader Bala Nandgaonkar and greeted with a standing ovation by the 20,000 plus gathering at the NSE Ground, Goregaon.
Thackeray clan's third generation
Humbly acknowledging the 'Abhishek' honour, Amit Thackeray folded his hands -- and taking a leaf out of his uncle Uddhav Thackeray's book -- stepped forward on the stage, bowed and prostrated, and expressed his gratitude to the party leaders and workers.
He also paid respects before the portraits of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, B.R. Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule, Prabodhankar Thackeray and Vinayak Damodar alias Veer Savarkar on the stage.
"This is my first-ever address on a public platform in the past 14 years of the party and my 27 years (age)... I am truly overwhelmed. When Raj-Saheb informed me last night that I would move the Education Resolution, I felt the ground slipping from beneath my feet. This would not have been possible without the guidance and encouragement of Raj-Saheb Thackeray. I hope you will continue to shower me with your love and blessings," Amit said in his brief acceptance speech.
There was a loud round of applause from his parents, Raj and Sharmila Thackeray, who basked in the glory, as well as Amit's wife Mitali Borude-Thackeray, his grandmother, other relatives, party leaders and office-bearers and activists.
Thereafter, with a party flag around his shoulders, Amit Thackeray stepped forward, symbolically whipped out a sword from the sheath and waved it in the air, indicating he was ready for the political battles ahead.
With Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Amit Thackeray becomes another third-generation to rise from the state's pre-eminent Thackeray clan.
Until now, he was noticed fleetingly in the shadows behind his father and other senior leaders, but in future Amit Thackeray is expected to play the role of the party protagonist.
Party's future course of action
While there has been no official announcement, the MNS is likely to adopt the Hindutva strategy with a possibility of allying with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, according to reports.
Raj Thackeray had earlier attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of last year's state Assembly election in Maharashtra. He was also said to be keen on joining the opposition alliance. But the idea was turned down by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, in view of the party's anti-migrant rhetoric.
Raj Thackeray had launched the new party in 2006 after his split from the Shiv Sena. The feud started after party patriarch Bal Thackeray chose his son Uddhav Thackeray to lead the party.