While preparing to move on without party chief Bal Thackeray, Shiv sainiks have one foremost wish—that Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray change his style of functioning and go from being a CEO to a politician.
“Uddhavji should not work like the CEO of a company, but as the head of a political party,” said a Shiv Sena veteran, adding that it was necessary for the party to nurture and develop a second rung of leadership like the Sena chief had in the past, through leaders like Pramod Navalkar, Madhukar Sarpotdar and Manohar Joshi.
He added that the soft-spoken and gentle Uddhav needed to open a direct line of communication with the common Shiv sainiks, like his father did, to foster a fraternal sense of bonding to hold on to the party’s base and seize power in the upcoming 2014 polls.
“He needs to move beyond his immediate circle,” said the Sena leader. Sena insiders admit that apart from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, who is said to consider himself as his uncle’s political heir, the Sena also needed to be wary of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP which could lure Sena leaders and Sainiks.
The NCP has emerged as a party popular with the Maratha kunbis, the largest caste grouping in the state, and has an aggressive no holds barred leadership, which would appeal to many Sainiks.
The Sena also needs to nurture and expand its social base, which ranges from the upper castes to the OBCs and the Hindu dalits. Though the affable Uddhav is seen as the man who can secularise the party to attract more sections of society, the big fear is that in doing so, he might alienate the Sena’s core base (the Marathi manoos) and auxiliary constituency (Hindus), which were being poached upon by the MNS.
“We need to work hard for success in the coming Lok Sabha and state assembly polls,” said another veteran Sena leader from Mumbai, adding that gaining power in the state would serve as a booster shot to the organisation’s fortunes.