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'It's not necessary for everyone to participate in active politics'

July 01, 2014 08:56 IST

'It's not necessary for everyone to participate in active politics'

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Subhash K Jha

Aspiring poet and photographer, young Thackeray scion Aditya speaks to Subhash K Jha about his dreams, visions and aspirations

Aditya, you have a vision of new urban lifestyle of a revamped Mumbai. Please tell me about it.

We do have a vision for Mumbai and have been implementing it too. It is not something that we have created overnight; but it has been there in the family for generations. More than a vision, it is our family’s love for Mumbai city.

To begin with, my grandfather ensured that when we controlled the state government from 1995-99, law and order was a priority -- crime was almost eliminated, business thrived in a safer environment, people could live on what they earned rather than be scared of extortion. More so, women were safe.

Mumbai also got 55 flyovers that are the only solace now in times of peak traffic, and the Bandra-Nariman Point Sealink was initiated. Had we remained in power for another term, we would have completed the sealink until Nariman Point.

Open spaces, public utilities, water and sanitation has been the core agenda. Affordable water to all, affordable transport has been the key, along with modernisation of technology in education.

With your parent party’s support you want to make the nightlife in Mumbai more vibrant. Are you getting your party members’ support in this endeavour?

Mumbai has never been a city that sleeps at night. If you interact with anyone a generation older than mine, they miss the buzzing nightlife of Mumbai. People on the streets, business running, eateries buzzing, that’s what Mumbai was also about. Today, it is much like a curfew. With the nightlife I have proposed, the government would make it optional; yet enable eateries, cafes, malls, shops, spas, theaters to remain open till dawn.

Imagine strolling in a mall on a Saturday night with your family or friends. It will not only give a boost to the employment and economy of the state, but more people on the street, officially, would mean the city being safer. Today, the nightlife is in the nooks and corners which makes it relatively unsafe.

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Image: Aditya Thackeray at a public rally in Mumbai


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What are your thoughts and plans for the education of the young in Mumbai and Maharashtra?

The base of any society is good education. The plan is simple: have a better administration in education to avoid little goof-ups that cause major stress and damage to the students’ minds and careers respectively. We aim to spread the pilot project of two way virtual interactive classrooms from the BMC to other schools in Maharashtra. It has been successful in BMC-run schools and has ensured quality education.

For universities, skill-based practical education is needed, as well as reforming and updating our syllabus. I, personally, would like to break the streams such as arts and commerce to a more broad-based open education system where one can select studying music with physics or economics with engineering.

Your party is also in favour of converting the Mahalaxmi Racecourse into a recreational ground. Is this an indication of your party’s opposition to elitist activities? Should Mumbai expect more such conversion of elitist areas into more public-friendly areas of activity?

For us, every Mumbaikar is important and we have never seen anyone through the views of being elite or not elite. The key issue herein is, Racecourse is a prime land -- 225 acres -- in the heart of the city. Most developed cities across the world have huge parks in the city, take the Hyde Park in London or the Central Park in New York. We are not opposed to the Racecourse or racing, but that can be accommodated somewhere near the city, limits while this land, freed after a 99-year hold, can be converted into Mumbai Park, a place for one and all, from any class or creed.

The design has water bodies, green zones, music zones, open fields to play, tracks for cycling and jogging, aroma and fitness zones, all in the open. Would you not want such a lovely park for Mumbai?

Tell me about your plans to build the ambitious Coastal Road and to develop the eastern coast of Mumbai?

We built the 55 flyovers in the city in order to ease the traffic for 10 years. Today, after 15 years, Mumbai is choking with traffic. Population and cars have increased, but not the space of Mumbai. To ease this traffic, the BMC has proposed the Coastal Road. The design has been made by an expert committee and the project has been pending for the last two years with the ministry of environment for clearance.

This road, from Malad to Nariman Point will be a boon for Mumbaikars, and more so, it is designed in a manner to have space for cars, bikes, bicycles and walkways. The road is planned to be in phases of tunnels, stilts, reclamation of land at places, however, the fishermen’s wharfs and mangroves will not be damaged.

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Image: A proposed aerial view of the vision of Mahalaxmi racecourse with theme park
Photographs: Aditya Thackeray's Facebook page

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You are very young, urban and modern in your thinking. Do you find yourself curbing your tendency to do normal ‘young’ things because of your affiliation to one of Maharashtra most powerful political families?

I have never felt that way. I have always done things, the way most others my age would, and have never felt curbed in any which way. The point is, thankfully, I have never seen myself with affiliations. For me, it is always family, and the stature, the power isn’t what I think of.

Do you think the young people of the country need to be proactive in politics?

It is not necessary for everyone to participate in active politics. The youth should come forward in every field, sports, education, business or media. And yes, everyone should voice their political choice through voting.

Aditya, you have many dreams and aspirations for Mumbai and Maharashtra. Does your presence within a powerful political party enable you to do what you want to?

Yes. I’m very fortunate to be born in a place where I can get things done for good. It surely is a good pad to voice yourself, be heard, get things implemented. At the same time, we have to think twice of what we want to do, as a single decision affects millions of people.

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Image: Aditya at a public rally in Mumbai
Photographs: Aditya Thackeray's Facebook page
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You seem to be very close to the film industry. Who are the actors you are close to?

Our bond with the film industry has been for three generations now, right since the times of grandfather having nurtured close friendship with many in the film industry. Today, the next generation of the families is connected. Although we have many friends, I would not name any, for the fear of missing out on someone.

Do you think celebrities from the entertainment industry can be beneficial to political issues of the country?

They surely can be. What is most useful is their fame and fans that can help a political or social message spread in the country. Politics, for me, is a way of solving social problems, and anyone who is well known, should voice issues, however, only after being well-informed and not for publicity or TRPs.

Probably one of the most successful campaigns was that of Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan to eradicate polio. The message reached far and wide, and today, we have successfully curbed the issue.

Do you watch films regularly? Who are you favourite filmmakers and which recent films have you enjoyed recently?

Like most Indians, I do watch films regularly. I love romcoms, comedies, and at times, action movies.

Do you have plans of going into film production? What kind of films would you like to produce?

Quite honestly, I haven’t thought of it. I have discussed this with a few friends from the industry, but not given it a serious thought yet.

How easy is it for you to convince film personalities to participate in your various charitable activities?

It does get easy because of the friendship, but more so because of the cause.

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Image: Aditya with actor Akshay Kumar

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Tell us a bit about your personal life. What does Aditya Thackeray do to relax?  Does he have a girlfriend?

(Laughs) I wouldn’t mind some more loaded political questions. Being absolutely honest, I love my work, so I don’t have to find time to relax, however, I do love chilling with close friends, watching movies, reading and traveling.

Were you ever tempted to go into any other vocation other than politics? Or was just politics from the time you were a child?

I don’t quite remember anything else I must have thought about. Yes, I am a bit into photography and writing poems, but politics has been the attraction, since I always saw the amount of things one can do for the society.

What are your earliest memories of your formidable grandfather Balasaheb? Was he ever the typical grandfather with you?

He was an angel of a grandfather. He never said no. Even if everyone else found the grandchildren to be noisy, creating a ruckus, he would allow us to do that in his meetings. I would fall short of words, if I dare to describe him as a grandfather.

I believe you write a lot of poetry. Does that help you unwind? Whom do you write your poems for?

I do write poems, and off late I have kept the audience to only my close friends. It does help me express myself better actually.

What is your message for young Mumbaikars? Do you think the average 20-something should be given the right to party all night if he or she wants to?

I am only 24. Not old enough to give anyone any message.


Image: Aditya with brother Tejas and their grandfather, the late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray
Photographs: Aditya Thackeray's Facebook page

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