: शिव सेना Śīv Senā
, meaning Army of Shiva
, referring to Shivaji Bhosle
), is a political party
founded on June 19, 1966 by Bal Thackeray
, who is currently the leader of the party. The party emerged out of a movement in Bombay
, favouring increased influence of Marathis
. Although still primarily based in Maharashtra, the party has expanded branches throughout India. Gradually the party has adopted a Hindu nationalist
agenda, and aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party
. The party has taken part in Maharashtra state governments at several times and was a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance
cabinet that ruled India 1998-2004. The members of Shiv Sena are known as Shivsainiks
. The Shiv Sena is described as a militant nativist
organization by several academics.
Origins of the Shiv Sena
After the Independence of India in 1947, regional administrative divisions from the colonial era were gradually changed and states following linguistic borders were created. Within the Bombay Presidency a massive popular struggle was launched for the creation of a state for the Marathi-speaking people. In 1960 the presidency was divided into two linguistic states, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Moreover, Marathi-speaking areas of the erstwhile Hyderabad state were joined with Maharashtra. Bombay, in many ways the economic capital of India, became the state capital of Maharashtra. On one hand, people belonging to the Gujarati and Marwari communities owned the majority of the industry and trade enterprises in the city. On the other, the was a steady flow of South Indian migrants to the city, and who came to take over many white-collar employments.
In 1960 Bal Thackeray, a Bombay-based cartoonist, began publishing the satirical cartoon weekly Marmik. Through this publication he started disseminating anti-migrant sentiments. On June 19, 1966, Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena as a political organisation. It should be noted that at the time of its foundation, the Shiv Sena was not a political party as such.
Early years of Shiv Sena
The political approach of the Shiv Sena was centred around the concept of bhumiputra
(sons of the soil), the idea that Maharashtra inherently belonged to the Marathi community. The Shiv Sena was thus born out of a feeling of resentment about the relative marginilization of the native Marathi people in their own state by people whom they perceived as outsiders.
The Shiv Sena especially attracted a large number of disgruntled and often unemployed Marathi youth, who were attracted by Thackeray's charged anti-migrant oratory. Shiv Sena cadres became involved in various attacks against the South Indian communities, vandalising South Indian restaurants and pressuring employers to hire Marathis.
Another main characteristic of the early years of the Shiv Sena was the frequent struggles against communist trade unions. Prior to the formation of the Shiv Sena, the Communist Party of India played a dominant role in labour politics in Bombay. The Shiv Sena was supported by elements inside the Indian National Congress, whom hoped that the new organisation would be capable of weaking the communist trade union influence. Soon Shiv Sena cadres were involved in a series of violent conflicts with the communist trade union activists. In 1970 the CPI MLA of Dadar, Krishna Desai, was assassinated. CPI charged the Shiv Sena for the murder, and held Thackeray as responsible for the act.
The Shiv Sena-BJP combine won the 1995 Maharasthra state elections. After assuming state government power, Shiv Sena began to redress its organisation. A 'Shivsena Rajyapramukh Parishad' convention was held in Mumbai six months after the election. At the meeting a large number of local party leaders and representatives of various wings of the party participated. The meeting filled the function of reorienting the party organisation to adapt to the new tasks of being a party in government.It renamed Bombay as Mumbai
Shift to Hindutva and Alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party
The Sena started placing more weight on the Hindutva ideology in the 1970s as the hallmark 'sons of the soil' cause was weakening. With the shift to Hindutva, Thackeray increasingly made some controversial moves against Muslims and neighboring Pakistan.
The party has ruled the state in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The SS-BJP did however lose the 2004 state assembly election. The Sena is now the main opposition party in the state. The BJP-SS combine governs the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Traditionally the main strongholds of SS have been Mumbai and the Konkan coastal areas. However, in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections the result was reversed. The Shiv Sena made inroads in the interior parts of the state, while suffering losses in Mumbai.
Raj Thackeray split
In July 2005 Narayan Rane
was expelled from the party, which sparked internal conflict in the party. In December the same year Raj Thackeray
, Bal Thackeray's nephew, left the party. Thackeray later founded a new party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena
. The new party has tried to distance itself from the Hindu nationalist agenda of the Shiv Sena. After the split, clashes have occurred between followers of the two Senas.
As the Pramukh (Chief) of the party Bal Thackeray takes all major decisions, and has claimed that he ran the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government of 1995 to 1999 with what he called a 'remote control.' Activists and members of the Shiv Sena call themselves Shiv Sainiks, and carry out most of the party's grassroot work. In recent times, Thackeray does not concern himself with day-to-day activities of the party, which is run by his youngest son Uddhav Thackeray.
The recently refurbished Sena Bhavan located in the Dadar locality in Mumbai has served as the headquarters of the Sena since 1976.
The Sena's shakhas (local offices) spread throughout the state of Maharashtra as well as in selected locations in other states decide upon most of the local issues in their particular cities or towns.
|align=left|1993 Madhya Pradesh
|align=left|1998 Himachal Pradesh
Recent electoral victories
The Shiv Sena achieved electoral victories in local Maharashtra elections on February, 2007, together with their partner the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and are set for another five year term. They have achieved this on the platform of preference to Maharashtrians, which appealed to their vote bloc. The victory was noteworthy for reasons more than one. It means that by 2012, when the next BMC elections are due, the Shiv Sena would have ruled over Mumbai for an uninterrupted spell of 20 years. It was also a relief to the Junior Thackeray who personally supervised the campaign strategy.
The Sena-led combine, which had suffered serious reverses in all the assembly by-elections in the past two years got 111 of the 227 seats. Out of the declared 226 seats, the Sena has won 83 seats, BJP 28, the left-wing opponents, the Indian National Congress won 71, and other opposition groups NCP won 14 while MNS won 7.
Claims of benefits to Maharashtrians
Supporters of the Sena have claimed that the party has benefited the Marathi Manus
(Marathi man) in Mumbai, especially in the public sector. However, the Sena has allegedly done little to solve the problem of unemployment facing a large proportion of Maharashtrian youth during its tenure, in contradiction to its ideological foundation of 'sons of the soil.'
The Sena claims to have played a central role in the emancipation of 500,000 slum dwellers in the Dharavi
area of Mumbai
, the largest slum in Asia. However, the state's policy of giving free houses to slum dwellers has been mired in controversy ever since it was introduced by the Shiv Sena-BJP government a decade ago.
Improvements in infrastructure
In addition, the Sena has been active in trying to improve infrastructure in Maharashtra, particularly in the financial capital of Mumbai. Nearly 40 flyovers in Mumbai and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway were constructed under the Shiv Sena administration, which led to a significant infrastructural boom in Mumbai. While successive State governments have been guilty of neglecting Mumbai's transport problems, the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP government drastically altered the course. As quoted by a local newpaper, " by initiating a range of road schemes, the Sena unequivocally opted for private, motorised transport in preference to public transport.
These moves have been a crucial factor in its increasing popularity within India and the promises of further improvement have boosted the Shiv Sena's campaigns.
The Shiv Sena has a suicide squadron, named the "Balidani Jatha," ("sacrificing group") which has at least 21 members. The squadron was involved in violence in Kathua
, Jammu and Kashmir
on July 14, 2008, as they were blocked by Central Reserve Police Force personnel from marching towards Jammu
city. The Sena was demonstrating against a decision by the government of Kashmir
to not hand over land to a Hindu shrine board, as the proposal had caused some of the largest protests in Kashmir's history, and stirred resentment and fears of "demographic dilution". Shiv Sena has raised the squadron on occasion since at least 1987, when 125 activists participated in what was termed "morale boosting" activities aimed at strengthening the Hindu community in Punjab
during the 1980s insurgency there. It is not clear whether the group considered itself a suicide squadron at the time though. The group also vowed to send this squad to Srinagar in 2004 to hoist the Indian flag at the city's main intersection, Lal Chowk. However, for unknown reasons, the group never attempted to fulfill their vow. Later that year, the Shiv Sena raised another squadron in order to disrupt India and Pakistan from playing cricket in Delhi. However, they were unsuccessful. The group is not known to have ever attempted a suicide mission, though the Shiv Sena claims the members are willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believe is India's rightful existence as a Hindu nation.
Controversial activities of the Shiv Sena
During its early years, the Sena occasionally resorted to violence and threats against people belonging to other Indian communities as part of its 'sons of the soil' ideology. In the early years of the Sena, the party's widely circulated Marathi language-weekly Marmik
was instrumental in inflamming the anti-migrant sentiment in Mumbai's Maharashtrians. Thackeray, then a cartoonist for the Free Press journal, initially targeted the growing number of South Indians
by inflammatory slogans like "lungi hatao pungi bajao"
(referring to the lungi,
a Marathi word for the traditional men's dress in South India), and "yendu gundu
" (a derogatory description of the Dravidian languages
spoken by the people from South India). During this period, Shiv Sainiks launched a string of attacks on the South-Indian owned Udupi
restaurants that were becoming popular in Mumbai. In a similar manner, Thackeray later targeted Gujaratis, Marwaris, Biharis
, and people from North Indian
states like Uttar Pradesh
('UPites') through his speeches. Moreover, Thackeray threatened a number of local industrialists and businessmen with action unless they offered preferential employment to Maharashtrian people.
The Sena has been accused of being involved in coordinated political violence in order to propagate its ideologies and attack opposing ideologies. For this reason, it has sometimes been described as a militant right-wing group.
In the 1970s, Shiv Sena members were accused as responsible for killing, CPI MLA from the Parel neighbourhood in Central Mumbai. However, the attackers were not indicted for murder. On February 8, 2006, Sena workers, led allegedly by Sena's student wing, attacked the office of the Zee TV channel, ransacking and damaging the office. The attack came in response to a satirical skit titled 'Kaka mala Vachva' (Marathi for 'Uncle, protect me'), staged during the awards function hosted by the channel at the Bandra-Kurla complex. The skit was reportedly a comment on the power tussle within the Thackeray family, which ultimately resulted in the exit of Thackeray's nephew Raj from the party some time ago.
In addition to its campaign against non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena protests have been known to break down into violence and force in public in the name of protecting Hindutva from what it deems as corrupting western influences. The party has been involved in organized protests, pickets, market shutdowns and strikes that have been known to degenerate into violent clashes and in some instances riots. For instance, Shiv Sena activists have attacked shops in Mumbai selling gifts for Valentine's Day as part of the party's campaign against 'vulgar' western influences on youth. Likewise, in 1998, Shiv Sainiks attacked movie theatres in Mumbai screening director Deepa Mehta's Fire, a highly controversial film based on a lesbian theme on the grounds that such films violated Hindu ethos and were immoral for Hindus to watch. As a result, the screening of the movie was withdrawn. Later, members of the Sena's Varanasi branch launched aggressive protests against the filming of Mehta's Water, on the grounds that such films were made with the designs of intentionally defaming Hinduism by portraying Varanasi and other holy cities in an innacurate and negative light. As a result of the protests, the location for shooting the film was shifted to the neighbouring Sri Lanka.
Following the demolition of the Babri Mosque
in 1992 in the North Indian city of Ayodhya
, communal riots erupted in various places in India. The Shiv Sena is widely alleged to have played an active role in the riots in Mumbai. On 23 January 1993, the then Congress
-led Government of Maharashtra
appointed Justice B.N. Srikrishna
(then a sitting Judge of the Bombay High Court
) to head a one-man commission with the task of investigating the riots. The Commission indicted the Shiv Sena for its direct involvement in coordinating the anti-Muslim riots, and accused Thackeray of "commanding his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate by organised attacks against Muslims." However, Thackeray was absolved of all criminal charges in July 2000 after seven years of judicial proceedings.
Allegations of violence against Muslims
The Shiv Sena has also been accused of orchestrating violence against Muslims. The Sena is widely alleged to have played an active role in the riots in Mumbai following the demolition of the Babri Mosque
in 1992 in the north-Indian holy city of Ayodhya
. On 23 January 1993, the then Congress
-led Government of Maharashtra
appointed Justice B.N. Srikrishna
(then a sitting Judge of the Bombay High Court
) to head a one-man commission with the task of investigating the riots. The Commission indicted the Sena for its direct involvement in coordinating the anti-Muslim riots, and accused Thackeray of "commanding his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate by organised attacks against Muslims." However, Thackeray was absolved of all criminal charges in July 2000 after seven years of judicial proceedings.
Additionally, as part of their efforts to hamper any collaboration between India and the Muslim dominated Pakistan, Shiv Sainiks have resorted to damaging cricket pitchs in stadiums where the Indian and Pakistani cricket team were scheduled to play. The two most prominent instances of the Sena's targeting pitches are the destruction of the pitch at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in 1991 and the vandalizing of the Feroz Shah Kotla Grounds pitch in national capital Delhi in 1999. The Sena orchestrated these activities in an atmosphere of growing tensions between the two nations.
Claims of tempered stance
In an interview in 1998, Thackeray claims to have tempered his stance on many issues that the Shiv Sena had with Muslims, particularly regarding the Babri Mosque
issue, saying: "We must look after the Muslims and treat them as part of us." In addition, some members of the Sena claim that the party does not discriminate on the basis of religion and is based on pure nationalism.
Meenatai desecration protests
On July 9, 2006, after some unidentified miscreants desecrated the statue of Meenatai (the late wife of Bal Thackeray), Shiv Sainiks blocked roads at Dadar in central Mumbai and damaged a police outpost, and later launched statewide protests mired with isolated incidences of violence in Nagpur
and other cities in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena & MNS Clashes
On October 10, 2006 clashes erupted between supporters of Shiv Sena and Maharastra Navnirman Sena headed by Raj Thackery. It was alleged that workers of MNS had tore the posters bearing the photographs of Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackrey near the SIES college in Mumbai. Later as retaliation it was alleged that Shiv Sena workers brought down the hoardings with Raj Thackrey's photo near the Sena Bhavan at Dadar.
As the news spread about the incident groups gathered near the Sena Bhavan and started pelting stones at each other. In this incident a policeman was injured and many supporters of both parties were injured. To restore normalcy in the situation the police fired tear gas shells at the mob.
Normalcy was eventually restored following police action and the appearance of Uddhav Thackeray and his cousin Raj Thackeray on the spot. Uddhav appealed to Sena workers to go back home. He said:
``The police will take necessary action. This is happening because many people are joining us from MNS. The defections have started and that is why they are resorting to such actions".
The division chief of the Shiv Sena Milind Vaidya said that they had lodged a complaint with the local police against an MNS worker who was involved in the oncident. MNS general secretary Pravin Darekar, however, pinned the cause down to local elections in the SIES college. He alleges that the Sena is concerned about losing their hold over the colleges and that is why they are trying to color the issue, adding that the Sena's allegations had no merit. Raj Thackeray asserts that MNS could not have vandalized the pictures, seeing as how he and his members revere Bal Thackeray.
Books — Marathi
- Bhosale, Harshad (2004): ‘Mumbai Mahanagarpalika Nivadnuk’ in Palshikar Suhas and Nitin Birmal (eds), Maharashtrache Rajkaran Pratima, Pune.
- Maharashtratil Sattantar, Vora Rajendra and Suhas Palshikar, Granthali, Mumbai 1996
- Bhosale,Harshad(2006),"Mumbaichya Vikasacha Arthik, Rajakiya Ani Samajik Sandarbha",in Bi monthly APLA PARAM MITRA, Sept-October 2006,year 5,issue-3.
Books — English
- Ethnicity and Equality: The Shiv Sena Party and Preferential Policies in Bombay, MF Katzenstein - 1979 - Cornell University Press
- Warriors in Politics: Hindu Nationalism, Violence, and the Shiv Sena in India, S Banerjee - 2000 - Westview Press
- The Sena Story, Purandare Vaibhav, Business Publications, Mumbai,(1999)
- The Charisma of Direct Action: Power, Politics, and the Shiv Sena, JM Eckert - 2003 - Oxford University Press
- Nativism in a Metropolis: The Shiv Sena in Bombay, D Gupta - 1982 – Manohar (OUP 1996)
- Shiv Sena: An Assessment, Palshikar, Suhas, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Pune, Pune (1999)
- Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, 'Power', chapter 3, Mumbai, Mehta, Suketu, Penguin Books(2005)
- The Rebirth of Shiv Sena: The Symbiosis of Discursive and Organizational Power, Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Uday Singh Mehta, Usha Thakkar, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 56, No. 2 (May, 1997), pp. 371-390
- Saffronisation of the Shiv Sena, J Lele — Bombay: Metaphor for Modern India, 1995
- Cultural Populism: The Appeal of the Shiv Sena, G Heuzé — Bombay: Metaphor for Modern India, 1995
- The Shiv Sena’s new avatar: Marathi chauvinism and Hindu communalism, R Sardesai - Politics in Maharashtra, 1995
- The Rhetoric of Hindu Nationalism: A Narrative of Mythic Redefinition, Robert C. Rowland, Abhik Roy; Western Journal of Communication, Vol. 67, 2003
- Regenerating Masculinity in the Construction of Hindu Nationalist Identity: A Case Study of Shiv Sena, Abhik Roy, Communication Studies, Volume 57, Number 2 / June 2006,
- The Feminization of Violence in Bombay: Women in the Politics of the Shiv Sena, S Banerjee - Asian Survey, 1996
- The vernacularisation of Hindutva: The BJP and Shiv Sena in rural Maharashtra, Thomas Blom Hansen Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol. 30, No. 2, 177-214 (1996)
- The Shiv Sena: A Movement in Search of Legitimacy R Joshi - Asian Survey, 1970
- Origins of Nativism: The Emergence of Shiv Sena in Bombay MF Katzenstein - Asian Survey, 1973
- Sardesai, Rajdeep ‘Shiv Sena’s New Avatar: Marathi Chauvinism and Hindu Communalism’ in Usha Thakkar and Mangesh Kulkarni (eds), Politics in Maharashtra, Himalaya, Mumbai, pp 127-46 (1995)
- " City of Mongrel Joy": Bombay and the Shiv Sena in Midnight's Children and The Moor's Last Sigh, R Trousdale - JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH LITERATURE, 2004
articles available in net
- The Shiv Sena: An Eruption of Subnationalism, Morkhandikar R S, Economic and Political Weekly, October 21, pp 1903-06 (1967
- Shiv Sena: A Tiger with Many Faces? S Palshikar - Economic and Political Weekly, 2004
- The Charisma of Autocracy Bal Thackeray's Dictatorship in Shiv Sena J Eckert — MANUSHI, 2002
- Shiv Sena andNational'Hinduism, G Heuze — ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY, 1992