Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena (IAST: Śiva Sēnā) (translation; Army of Shivaji), is a Marathi regional and Hindu nationalist political organisation in India founded on 19 June 1966 by political cartoonist Bal Thackeray.[14] The party originally emerged from a movement in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) demanding preferential treatment for Maharashtrians over migrants to the city. It is currently headed by Thackeray's son, Uddhav Thackeray. Members of Shiv Sena are referred to as Shivsainiks.

Shiv Sena
ChairpersonUddhav Thackeray
Lok Sabha leaderVinayak Raut
Rajya Sabha leaderSanjay Raut
FounderBal Thackeray
Founded19 June 1966 (1966-06-19)
HeadquartersShivsena Bhavan, Dadar, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Student wingBharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS)
Youth wingYuva Sena
Women's wingShiv Sena Mahila Aghadi
Hindu nationalism secularism [2]
Economic nationalism[3]
Right-wing populism[9]
Marathi interests
Political positionFar-right[10][11][12][13]
ECI StatusState Party
AllianceNDA (1998-2019)
MVA (since 2019) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) since 2019
Seats in Lok Sabha
18 / 545
Seats in Rajya Sabha
3 / 245
Seats in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly
56 / 288
Seats in Maharashtra Legislative Council
14 / 78
Election symbol

Although the party's primary base is still in Maharashtra, it has tried to expand to a pan-Indian base. In the 1970s, it gradually moved from advocating a pro-Marathi ideology to one supporting a broader Hindu nationalist agenda,[15] as it aligned itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The party started taking part in Mumbai (BMC) Municipal elections since its inception. In 1989, it entered into an alliance with the BJP for Lok Sabha as well as Maharashtra assembly elections, the latter of which was temporarily broken in October 2014 Assembly elections. The alliance was quickly reformed and Shiv Sena became part of the BJP government in Maharashtra in December 2014. It was a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance during 1998–2019, including the Vajpayee Government during 1998–2004 and the Narendra Modi Government during 2014-2019. After the Maharashtra elections in October 2019, Shiv Sena claimed that promises were not kept by their alliance partner BJP and broke ties. The party later joined hands with the United Progressive Alliance in a bid to form the government in Maharashtra.

The party has a powerful hold over the Bollywood film industry.[16] It has been referred to as an "extremist",[17][18] "chauvinist",[19][20]as well as a "fascist party".[21][22] Shiv Sena has been blamed for the 1970 communal violence in Bhiwandi, the 1984 Bhiwandi riot, and violence in the 1992–1993 Bombay riots.[23][24]

The party draws its strength from the support of the Maratha and Kunbi communities of Maharashtra which the Sena drew away from the Congress party.[25]



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 community owned the majority of the industry and trade enterprises in the city.[26] On the other hand, there was a steady flow of South Indian migrants to the city who came to take many white-collar jobs.

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 19 June 1966, Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena as a political organisation.

The Shiv Sena attracted many 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, vandalizing South Indian restaurants and pressuring employers to hire Marathis.[15]

Alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party

The Sena started placing more weight on the Hindutva ideology in the 1970s as the 'sons of the soil' cause was weakening.[15]

The party has been in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for Lok Sabha as well as Maharashtra Assembly since 1989. The two formed a government in Maharashtra between 1995-1999.[27] The Sena was the opposition party in the state along with the BJP from 1999 to 2014. However, 25 years old alliance of Sena and BJP was broken in 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections over seat sharing issue and both contested elections independently.[27] After the BJP became largest party in the 2014 Assembly elections, Sena declared that it would play the role of opposition but, after further negotiations, agreed to join the government in Maharashtra.[28] The Shiv Sena-BJP combine governs the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Traditionally the main strongholds of Shiv Sena 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.

In January 2018, Shiv Sena officially cut ties with the BJP and their NDA coalition ahead of the 2019 Indian general election after nearly 30 years of campaigning alongside the BJP.[29] But in February 2019, BJP and Shiv Sena again announced alliance for the general elections as well as the 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election.[30]

Formation of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

In July 2005, Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena leader 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.[31] Raj Thackeray later founded a new party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). After the split, clashes have occurred between followers of the two Senas.

Although the MNS is a break-away group from the Shiv Sena, the party is still based in Bhumiputra ideology. When unveiling the party in an assembly at Shivaji Park he said, everyone is anxious to see what will happen to Hindutva and, "I shall elaborate on the party's stance on issues like Hindutva, its agenda for development of Maharashtra and the significance of the party flag colours at the 19 March public meeting."[32]

Leadership change

Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav Thackeray became the party's leader in 2004, although Bal Thackeray continued to be an important figurehead. After the death of Bal Thackeray on 17 November 2012, Uddhav became the leader of the party but refused to take the title "Shiv Sena Pramukh" (Shiv Sena Supremo).[33]

Party structure and caste composition


As the Pramukh (Chief) of the party, Bal Thackeray took all major decisions while the activists and members of the Shiv Sena Shiv Sainiks carried out most of the party's grassroots work. During his last days, the day-to-day activities of the party were handled by his youngest son Uddhav Thackeray. Aditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, became the leader of the Yuva Sena, the Youth Wing of the party. After Bal Thackerey's death in 2012, the party was de facto led by Uddhav Thackeray.

The Sena Bhavan located in the Dadar locality in Mumbai has served as the Headquarters of the Sena since 1976.[34] The Sena's shakhas (Branches) spread throughout the state of Maharashtra as well as in selected locations in other states, which decide on most of the local issues in their localities.[15]

The Sthaniya Lokadhikar Samiti is affiliated with the Shiv Sena. It advocates the preservation of rights of employment for Maharashtrians in Maharashtra.[35]

Caste composition

People of various Maharashtrian castes worked together in the Sena. The party's leaders mostly came from the so-called "high castes" i.e. Brahmins, CKPs and Pathare Prabhus - Thackerey, Manohar Joshi, Sudhir Joshi, Balwant Mantri, Dr Hemchandra Gupte, Shyam Deshmukh, Madhav Deshpande, Datta Pradhan, Vijay Parvatkar, Madhukar Sarpotdar and Pramod Navalkar.[36] One of the above-mentioned leaders, Dr.Hemchandra Gupte, Mayor of Bombay in the early 70s and the former family physician and confidante of Thackeray, quit Shivsena in "disgust" citing importance given to money, violence committed by the Shivsainiks and Thackeray's support for Mrs.Gandhi during the 1975 emergency.[37]

There were also leaders from other castes such as Dattaji Salvi, Dattaji Nalawade and Wamanrao Mahadik, and those from the so-called lower castes such as Chaggan Bhujbal, Leeladhar Dake, Bhai Shingre and Vijay Gaonkar.[36]

Over the years, other than the Sena Chief, there have been twelve senior leaders in the party, called 'Netas'. Out of these, eight have been upper caste (four Brahmins, two CKPs and two Pathare Prabhus). Others have been either Maratha (Dattaji Salvi), Shimpi (Wamanrao Mahadik), Agri (Leeladhar Dake) or Mali (Chaggan Bhujbal). In fact, Bhujbal quit the party accusing the Sena of upper-caste bias in the leadership.[36]

The number of dalits were also not insignificant. And even after the Sena opposed the reservations proposed by the Mandal commission, there was no dent in the percentage of OBCs in the Sena. In this way, the Sena was successful in uniting all Maharashtrians irrespective of caste under the common "Marathi umbrella". The agenda of preferential treatment for the "sons of the soil" i.e. Maharashtrians brought them all together.[36]

Voter base

Shiv Sena's strength in the late 1980s and early '90s mainly came from the support of the Maratha caste - which it drew away from the Congress.[25] Citing the large percentage of MLAs elected from Shiv Sena belonging to the Maratha caste, Vora from the University of Pune concludes that the Shiv Sena has been emerging as a "Maratha Party".[38]

Chief Ministers

Chief Minister Portrait Term of office Days Other posts held
Manohar Joshi 14.03.1995 - 31.01.1999 1419 days Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament of India
Narayan Rane 01.02.1999 - 17.10.1999 258 days Minister for Revenue of Maharashtra
Uddhav Thackeray 28.11.2019 - 16 days President of Shiv Sena, Editor-in-chief of Saamana

Shiv Sena ministers in central Government

Electoral performance

Election Candidates Elected Votes Source
1971 Lok Sabha 5 227,468 [39]
1980 Lok Sabha 2 129,351 [40]
1989 Lok Sabha 3 1 339,426 [41]
1989 Goa Assembly 6   4,960 [42]
1991 Uttar Pradesh Assembly 14 1 45,426 [43]
1991 Lok Sabha 22 4 2,208,712 [44]
1993 Madhya Pradesh Assembly 88 75,783 [45]
1996 Lok Sabha 132 15 4,989,994 [46]
1996 Haryana Assembly 17 6,700 [47]
1997 Punjab Assembly 3 719 [48]
1998 Lok Sabha 79 6 6,528,566 [49]
1998 Delhi Assembly 32 9,395 [50]
1998 Himachal Pradesh Assembly 6 2,827 [51]
1999 Lok Sabha 63 15 5,672,412 [52]
1999 Goa Assembly 14   5,987 [53]
2000 Odisha Assembly 16   18,794 [54]
2001 Kerala Assembly 1   279 [55]
2002 Goa Assembly 15  
2004 Lok Sabha 56 12 7,056,255 [56]
2009 Lok Sabha 22 11 6,828,382 [57]
2014 Lok Sabha 20 18 10,262,981 [56]
1990 Maharashtra Assembly 183 52 47,33,834(16.39%)
1995 Maharashtra Assembly 169 73 6315493(16.39%)
1999 Maharashtra Assembly 169 69 (17.33%)
2004 Maharashtra Assembly 163 62 8351654 (19,97%)
2009 Maharashtra Assembly 160 45
2014 Maharashtra Assembly 286 63 10,235,972
2015 Bihar Assembly 80 0 2,11,131 [58][59]
2017 Goa Assembly 3 0 792 [60][61]
2019 Lok Sabha 23 18 12,589,064

Activities and criticism

The Sena says it has 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 policy of giving free houses to slum dwellers has been controversial since it was introduced by the then Shiv Sena-BJP government.[62][63][64]

In 1970s, Shiv Sena was opposed the Namantar Andolan, a Dalit-led movement to change the name of Marathwada University in Aurangabad to "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar University", and supported views of conservative Marathas.[65]

In 1996, Shiv Sena organised the first and only live concert of American pop icon Michael Jackson in India to raise the funds for its business wing and to help create over two-hundred seventy thousand jobs for people of Maharashtra.[66][67]

In December 2003, Shiv Sena activists damaged the cricket pitch of the Agra Sport Stadium which was supposed to host the cricket match between Pakistan and India.[68] In April 2005, Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the student wing of Shiv Sena, attempted to prevent the India-Pakistan One-day international match being held in New Delhi. The protester's spokesman demanded:

India should not play cricket with Pakistan till it hands over to India 20 terrorists, including Dawood Ibrahim, and closes down militant training camps running there.[69]

On 20 November 2009, Shiv Sena activists attacked and vandalised the offices of Hindi and Marathi TV news channels IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat, located in Mumbai and Pune respectively. The Shivsainik slapped IBN7's senior editor Ravindra Ambekar and then attacked IBN-Lokmat's editor Nikhil Wagle. Shiv Sena attributed the attacks to the criticisms of Bal Thackeray by the news channel over his remarks on Sachin Tendulkar. Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut described the attacks as "spontaneous". Shiv Sena spokespersons tried to justify the attacks and refused to apologize for their acts of violence.[70][71][72]

Shiv Sena got an entry in Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for "collecting maximum blood in a day". Shiv Sena organized a blood donation camp which collected over 24,000 bottles of blood in a single day.[73][74] Later this world record was broken by a blood donation camp of HDFC Bank in 2014.[75]

In October 2015, Shiv Sena issued threats which enforced a ban on a scheduled concert by Pakistani classic singer Ghulam Ali. The move was adopted to appease anti-Pakistan constituents to vote for Sena in coming elections.[76] However, in 2015 Pakistan urged the international community to take note of the activities of Shiv Sena,[77] while Shiv Sena claimed that criticism of Shiv Sena by Pakistan vindicates "our patriotism".[78]

On 19 October 2015, Shiv Sena activists attacked and vandalised the office of BCCI to stop a meeting between PCB and BCCI officials. The activists shouted anti-Pakistan slogans and held posters that read 'Shahryar Khan go back', determined to stop Manohar from meeting his Pakistani counterpart. Shiv Sena has also threatened to stop Pakistan's Aleem Dar from officiating in the fifth and final ODI between India and South Africa.[79]

In 2015 Shiv Sena announced 10,000 rupees help to each drought-affected farmer of Marathwada region,[80] while they also announced 2 lakh rupees "reward" to Hindus family who had 5 children between 2010 and 2015 in Uttar Pradesh. As per Shiv Sena, the reason behind the "reward" was "decline in growth rate of Hindu population compared to Muslim population as per recent census".[81][82]

In April 2019, party member Sanjay Raut called for the burka to be banned.[83][84]

During the 2018 Maharashtra Council election and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, many candidates fielded by Shiv Sena had criminal records or had criminal charges pending against them.[85][86]

See also

  • Hindu nationalist parties


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Further reading

  • 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 Charisma of Direct Action: Power, Politics, and the Shiv Sena, JM Eckert – 2003 – Oxford University Press
  • 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)
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