India

After years, Sena gets a face to woo urban class

After years, Sena gets a face to woo urban class

Mumbai, April 19 (IANS) After nearly three decades, ex-Congresswoman Priyanka V. Chaturvedi’s grand entry to the Shiv Sena will bring a much-needed ‘glamour quotient’ to the Mumbai headquartered party.

The last time when a woman joining the Sena created waves was in early 1990s when the cricketer-turned-politician Chandrika Kenia-Jain, a former Congress minister and Rajya Sabha member joined the party for a short time.

However, more than the former Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi’s decision to quit the grand old party, it was her surprise decision to join the 53-year-old regional Shiv Sena that grabbed attention on Friday.

Sources said her decision was not abrupt, but was in works for the past nearly three weeks, before the Lok Sabha elections got under way, with the nod of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray.

The Sena, enjoying a macho image, has long been devoid of a ‘soft demeanour’ that could further enhance its acceptance among the womenfolk, especially the urban educated, middle and the elite.

Chaturvedi’s decade-long experience in a high-profile national-level position with the country’s oldest political party, could prove advantageous for the Sena in the country’s capital.

On the ‘big catch’, Thackeray said elections come and go, what is important is the party’s ideology and that “Chaturvedi has accepted it by deciding to join the Shiv Sena.”

“We shall entrust responsibilities commensurate with her experience and expertise, at the national and state level. We have got a good ‘sister’ in the form of Priyanka Chaturvedi,” Thackeray said, watching as his son Aditya tied a thread on her wrist, symbolizing ‘Shiv Bandhan’.

Though her exact role is not yet clear, ‘sister’ Chaturvedi could be an asset while dealing with Sena’s big brother Bharatiya Janata Party and other NDA allies effectively at the Centre.

Among the options being weighed for her is a largely national role: helping the party expand in Delhi and other states — she might get a Rajya Sabha nomination in the near future — and roping her to build bridges with India Inc, a crucial aspect that has largely remained unattended by the Sena.

Chaturvedi, 39, left a national-level high-profile post as one of the AICC spokespersons at the height of 2019 Lok Sabha elections and accepted the Sena’s symbolic ‘Shiv Bandhan’ in the presence of a beaming Thackeray this afternoon.

Responding to Thackeray’s warm welcome, Chaturvedi spoke appropriate words on her merits, her high regards for the Sena, her plans to work for women’s empowerment, strengthening the party at the national level and generally keeping busy at various levels.

A former Sena leader said Chaturvedi would never be expected to go out in the streets and campaign for the party, but would be deployed for “bigger things” keeping in mind her image, the changing times in the country and the world.

With Chaturvedi’s prominence even on social media, the Sena expects it would help endear the party to the gen-next, which is now being gradually targeted by the 28-year-old Aditya Thackeray, though much needs to be done on this front.

Chaturvedi said that Mumbai is her “janmabhoomi and karmabhoomi” but she wants to serve the people of the city more through the Shiv Sena, which has a connect with every person living in Maharashtra.

Admitting she was disappointed at being overlooked for a Congress ticket, she made it clear she never sought a nomination.

She also maintained she quit Congress as the party did not support her in the episode of unruly behavior by some Congress activists in the recent past, but a top Congress leader termed Chaturvedi’s decision as “disastrous”.

Like many others, a baffled social media activist Darshan Mondkar commented on his Facebook post: “The local goons are harassing mea so I am joining Gabbar’s gang!”

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