Bal Thackeray’s grandson Nihar says he’s at Shinde Camp; Ready to campaign for Andheri Byelection, BMC polls

Nihar Thackeray, the grandson of the late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, has said he supports the party’s Eknath Shinde faction and is ready to vote in the forthcoming Andheri East assembly by-elections and Mumbai citizenship polls to advertise. He also did not rule out getting involved in electoral politics.

The BJP, backed by the Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction, fielded Murji Patel against Rutuja Latke of the Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray party in the November 3 by-election. It will be the state’s first major election campaign since Shinde’s rebellion toppled the previous Maharashtra government led by Uddhav Thackeray in June this year. Nihar, the son of Bindumadhav Thackeray, the eldest son of Bal Thackeray, is a lawyer by profession. He is also part of Chief Minister Shinde’s legal team in the Supreme Court dispute over the ‘real’ Shiv Sena.

Shinde is carrying on the legacy of his late grandfather and is therefore supporting the prime minister, Nihar said in an interview with PTI.

When his uncle Uddhav Thackeray and cousin Aaditya on Dussehra were speaking at a rally in Shivaji Park in Mumbai, Nihar Thackeray shared the stage with Shinde, who was speaking at a separate rally at the MMRDA compound in the national capital.

Uddhav’s older brother Jaidev and Jaidev’s former wife Smita also shared the stage with Shinde, in an apparent attempt to send a message that other than Uddhav and his son, the rest of the family was supportive of Shinde.

Nihar declined to comment on the rifts in the family but said Bal Thackeray was the glue that held them together.

“I will be available for bypoll and BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) surveys if needed. I will continue to support Shinde ji,” he added.

Bindumadhav Thackeray, who produced, among other things, the 1996 Hindi hit “Agni Sakshi”, died in a traffic accident that same year.

Nihar is married to Ankita Patil, daughter of former Maharashtra Minister Harshvardhan Patil, who is now with the BJP. When asked if he would get involved in electoral politics, Nihar said, “I haven’t really thought about it seriously… I’m a lawyer by profession. But not making that decision doesn’t mean I never will.

“I’m not saying it’s a complete no. I just haven’t fully thought about it yet,” he said.

His cousin Aaditya became only the second member of the Thackeray family to stand in an election when he won from the Worli Assembly constituency in 2019.

Before that, another member of the extended family, Shalini Thackeray, had campaigned unsuccessfully in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) electoral map.

“For whatever reason, since Balasaheb died, I have not been an active part of the Shiv Sena or politics. It didn’t happen,” said Nihar Thackeray.

“If there had been an option, I would definitely have liked to have been there. It (the party) is something my grandfather started. For whatever reason, I wasn’t there,” he added, without elaborating on why he didn’t find a role in the Sena after Uddhav Thackeray took over.

When asked about his connection to Shinde, he said he first met the prime minister in July this year.

“Balasaheb has said clearly that under no circumstances will he ally himself with Congress. Whatever the reason, things happened and the government of Maha Vikas Aghadi (of the Sena, Congress and NCP) came to power and then … Shinde saheb decided to leave,” said Nihar Thackeray.

The government that was given the mandate to govern (2019) is now in power, he added.

The Shiv Sena and the BJP contested the 2019 general election together, but were at odds over the results.

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