With the Maharashtra governor inviting the Shiv Sena to stake claim, party chief Uddhav Thackeray now faces the biggest test of his political life to form a Sena-led government in the state, if the Congress and NCP decide to support him.
Thackeray, 59, a regional leader, stood up and held his ground against a national party (BJP) over tussle forsharing power, a political analyst said on condition of anonymity.
Now, he will have to prove his credentials as a leader who can navigate a new political path with parties like the Congress and NCP, which are ideologically different, he said.
"The tie-up will be with a national party and it remains to be seen how he will convince (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi to support him. Will he soften the fiery Hindutva stand, which the Shiv Sena espouses, or will that be an obstacle, the coming days will tell," the analyst said.
Another challenge for Thackeray will be whether to accept the post of chief minister, though there has been a clamour from some segments to project first time MLA and his son Aaditya as the party's chief ministerial face.
"There could be a crisis in the party if someone else is made (CM). There could be differences if another leader is appointed the chief minister," the analyst said.
While Thackeray has shown political sagacity and maturity, the BJP will not sit quiet and may try to topple a Sena-led government, he claimed.
"Uddhav will have to keep his flock of MLAs together," he said.
Twenty years ago, Thackeray was seen as a reluctant politician, living a cosy life with his wife Rashmi and sons Aaditya and Tejas.
The Sena leader, for whom photography is a passion, had set up an advertising agency called 'Chaurang'.
Like Rajiv Gandhi, who started out in politics by helping his mother Indira Gandhi, Uddhav Thackeray began assisting his father Bal Thackeray at a time when the firebrand Sena patriarch was aging and the party's sphere was expanding, the analyst said.
Amid new developments in the state's political arena after the recent Assembly polls, Thackeray's ability to leadhis party with its traditional street-fighter aggression would now face an acid test, he added.