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Shiv Sena leaves no stone unturned ahead of Uddhav Thackeray’s rally in Aurangabad


Mumbai:Ahead of Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s much-anticipated public rally in Aurangabad city on June 8, the Shiv Sena is leaving no stone unturned to turn the rally into a show of strength for the party. 

As the state’s major political parties gear up for the critical civic polls to 14 municipal corporations, Thackeray’s address on Wednesday is being seen as the opening salvo of the Shiv Sena’s campaign.  

According to sources, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray may even announce the official renaming of Aurangabad to ‘Sambhajinagar’ on the occasion as a fitting reply to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s frequent accusations of the Sena dithering over the renaming. The accusations have mounted on the Sena ever since its ideologically opposed alliance with the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.  

Thackeray’s ‘mega-event’ comes at a time when both his party and the BJP are locked in a fierce duel over Maharashtra’s ‘Hindutva’ space. Both the right-wing parties, once long-time saffron allies, are now engaged in championing themselves as the true upholder of ‘Hindutva’ ideals. 

The Sena has already released four teasers ahead of Thackeray’s address in Aurangabad, while party office bearers and activists have hit the streets with zeal, distributing leaflets and ensuring a packed audience for the Chief Minister’s speech.  

“Besides the thorny name change issue, the Chief Minister is likely to speak on Aurangabad’s water problems as well as the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. The plan is not to give too much importance to Thackeray’s estranged cousin, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, but concentrate the attack on the BJP,” said senior political analyst Vivek Bhavsar. 

The Chief Minister had recently rapped authorities over water woes in Aurangabad, where the Sena controls the civic body, while exhorting them to resolve all issues within a certain time-frame.  

The rally will mark 37 years since the launch of the first Shiv Sena branch (shakha at Gumandi in Aurangabad) in the Marathwada region. Besides their control of the cash-rich Mumbai civic body (BMC), the Sena has held the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for more than two decades now.  

It may be recalled that a month back, Raj Thackeray had taunted his estranged cousin as to why the Sena was dithering over renaming Aurangabad to ‘Sambhajinagar’ despite being in power in the AMC and the State.  

The Aurangabad venue, where Uddhav Thackeray is due to give his speech on Wednesday, is noteworthy as it was the same place where his father, the late Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray addressed a massive rally and first gave the call for ‘Aurangabad’ (named after the 17th century Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb) to be renamed as ‘Sambhajinagar’ (after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the Maratha king who was brutally tortured and murdered by Aurangzeb).

The teasers released by the Sena detail Bal Thackeray’s call for renaming Aurangabad.  

After the Sena founder’s rally in 1988, which saw the Shiv Sena move away from its ‘Marathi manoos’ plank to advocating staunch ‘Hindutva’ ideals. The Shiv Sena came to power in the Aurangabad civic body and has remained the dominant force there. It was also the first instance that the Sena began expanding its political support base outside of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

Given the MNS’ tilt towards the BJP in recent times, Raj Thackeray’s public address in Aurangabad last month was seen as an attempt to break the Sena’s dominance of the AMC.  


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