Shiv Sena
Leader Bal Thackeray
Founded 1966
Main Office Sena Bhavan, Mumbai
Alliance National Democratic Alliance
Ideology Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) and Bhumiputra
Publications 'Saamnaa'[4]
See also Politics of India

Political parties in India
Elections in India

Shiv Sena (Devanāgarī: शिव सेना Śīv Senā, meaning Army of Shiva, referring to Shivaji) is a nationalist political party in India founded on June 19, 1966 by Bal Thackeray, who is currently the president of the party. The Sena's ideology is based on the concepts of 'Bhumiputra' (Marathi for "Sons of the Soil") and Hindutva or Hindu nationalism. The 'Bhumiputra' ideology refers to the Shiv Sena's belief that Maharashtrians deserve more rights in Maharashtra than those who are not from Maharashtra.[1] However, in recent times, the Sena has laid more emphasis on Hindutva. In the 13th Lok Sabha (1999-2004), it had 15 (out of 545) members. During that period, the party was part of the National Democratic Alliance, which ruled at the national level. Manohar Joshi, a Shiv Sainik, was the Speaker of Lok Sabha 2002-2004. The Shiv Sena also ruled the Maharashtra state in its past and is one of the most influential Hindutva parties in the region.

Shiv Sena has its employment cell Shiv Udyog Sena. Bharatiya Kamgar Sena ("Indian Worker's Army"), a labour union, is affiliated to the Shiv Sena. The Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena ("India Students' Army") is the student wing of Shiv Sena.


Part of a series on
Hindu politics

Major parties

Bharatiya Janata Party
Shiv Sena

Defunct parties

Hindu Mahasabha
Bharatiya Jana Sangh
Ram Rajya Parishad


Integral humanism
Hindu nationalism
Uniform civil code

Major figures

Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar
Syama Prasad Mookerjee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Lal Krishna Advani
Bal Thackeray
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

Related authors

Vishal Agarwal
B.C. Chattopadhyay
Koenraad Elst
Francois Gautier
Sita Ram Goel
K.S. Lal
Harsh Narain
Yvette Rosser
Arun Shourie
Ram Swarup

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]] Bombay was given to the East India Company in 1666, having formed a part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry to Charles II. At this time it consisted of a series of islands inhabited by the Kolis, fishermen from whom the southernmost island of the Bombay peninsula, Colaba, took its name. With its establishment as a Presidency town in the later seventeenth century Bombay began to attract migrants in large numbers from the Mughal port of Surat and elsewhere, notably Parsis and Gujaratis, both Hindu and Muslim. By 1849 out of a total city population of 566,119, the British classified 296,931 as Hindus, with the remainder made up on Muslims, Parsis, Indian Christians, Jews, Anglo-Indians and Europeans.[2] Bombay boomed in the second half of the nineteenth century after the Governorship of Sir Bartle Frere, and became the most cosmopolitan city in India, with communities from every part of the subcontinent as well as Arabs and Baghdadi Jews. Until 1951 Marathi and Konkani-speakers were the majority group in Bombay, but the business class of the city was dominated by Parsis, Gujaratis and Marwaris.[3] Moreover, a large number people from South India migrated to Bombay and soon filled a number of white-collar jobs. Because of Bombay's special status as a city of migrants, there were moves to have it made a separate Union Territory along the lines of New Delhi when the states of India were reorganised on linguistic lines in the 1950s, and for Pune to be the capital of the new state of Maharashtra, but this was defeated by the Samyukta Maharashtra movement.[4][5] After the incorporation of the Bombay presidency in the Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra migration to Bombay increased;[6] non-Marathas, especially people belonging to the Gujarati and Marwari communities, continued to dominate industry and trade in the city, whilst Marathas constituted much of the proletariat and lower middle-class.[7] The Shiv Sena was thus born out of a feeling of resentment about the 'marginalization' of Marathas in Bombay.[8] The Shiv Sena especially attracted a large number of disgruntled and often unemployed Maharashtrian youth, who were pulled towards Thackeray's charged anti-migrant oratory.[1] In the early years of the Sena, the party's widely circulated Marathi language-weekly Marmik was instrumental in inflamming anti-migrant sentiment among Mumbai's Maharashtrians.[9] 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),[1] and "yendu gundu" (a derogatory description of the Dravidian languages spoken by the people from South India).[10] During this period, Shiv Sainiks launched a string of attacks on the South-Indian owned Udupi restaurants that were becoming popular in Mumbai.[9] In a similar manner, Thackeray later targeted Gujaratis, Marwaris, Biharis, and people from North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh ('UPites') through his speeches.[11]

The Sena started placing more weight on the Hindutva ideology in the 1970s as the hallmark 'sons of the soil' cause was weakening.[1] With the shift to Hindutva, Thackeray increasingly made some controversial moves against Muslims and neighboring Pakistan. The party largely reformed its ideology from Maharashtrian ethnocentrism to Hindutva, extending their influence to South Indian States such as Karnataka.[12]

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. The Shiv Sena was successful in the 2006 Municipal Corporations elections.

Party structure[]

As the president 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.[13] 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.[1]

Achievements of the Shiv Sena[]

Shiv Sena and industry[]

Industrialists were generally satisfied with the Sena's clout—since Sena leader Thackeray's draconian control over the employees would ensure a peaceful work environment.[3]

Claims of benefits to Maharashtrians[]

Supporters of the Sena have claimed that the party has benefited the Marathi Manus (Marathi man) in Mumbai,[14] especially in the public sector.[3] 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.'[15]

Dharavi emancipation[]

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.[16] 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 [5].[17]

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 55 flyovers in Mumbai and Navi 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. Moreover, by initiating a range of road schemes, the Sena unequivocally opted for private, motorised transport in preference to public transport.[18] 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.

In addition to improvements in transport infrastructure, the Shiv Sena has supported initiatives against proprietary technologies such as the "Conditional Access System" for television networks (which would have led to cable companies charging more for channels).[19] The Shiv Sena has also questioned the government’s procedure of divesting equity in oil refining and marketing majors, effectively "selling" profitable oil companies out.[20]

Mahila Aghadi[]

The women's front of the Shiv Sena, Mahila Aghadi, settles domestic disputes; from dowry demands to wife-beating, where they have taken a decidedly pro-Feminist stance. Through the use of aggressive tactics, they have reduced the instance of violence against women among the ranks of the Shiv Sena and their supporters.[21]

Minority support[]

Certain minority communities, such as Jews in India, are closely following the rise of Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena and other Hindutva parties, since they see a possible supporters of Zionism in the Shiv Sena. The affinities between Hindus and Jews go beyond their shared perception of a Muslim adversary, and while secularism has been in the interest of Jews in most nations of exile, it may be that the Indian case is a notable exception.[22]

Controversial activities of the Shiv Sena[]

The main controversy associated with Shiv Sena are media allegations of organized party violence against migrants to Maharashtra, Muslims and opposing parties/groups.The Shiv Sena protests have been known to sometimes break down into violence. The party has been involved in organized protests, pickets, market shutdowns and strikes that have been known to degenerate into violent clashes,[23] such as their attack on the Zee TV channel on February 8, 2006 in response to their broadcasting of a play that satirized their party.[24]

Vandalism at hospital[]

In August 2001, the Sunitidevi Singhania Hospital in Thane was ransacked after Anand Dighe, the local Shiv Sena chief who was being treated in the hospital, died of a massive heart attack. The hospital building, ambulances, medical equipment and the bloodbank was reduced to rubble during three hours of rioting and mayhem.[6]

Doctors, nurses and patients scurried for their lives after 1,500 people, reported to be mainly Shiv Sainiks, attacked the hospital. A six-year old child with a respiratory problem and a 65-year-old man with a kidney ailment died after their medical equipment was wrecked by rioters.[7]

In another incident, on September 17, 2003, the Bhaktivedanta hospital was shut down briefly after an attack by Shiv Sainiks, due to a wage-compensation disagreement between the hospital and the hospital workers' Union [8]

Shiv Sena and Krishna Desai[]

In the 1970s, Shiv Sena members were accused as responsible for killing Krishna Desai, CPI MLA from the Parel neighbourhood in Central Mumbai. However, the attackers were not indicted for murder.[25]

Allegations of violence against Muslims[]

The Shiv Sena has also been accused of orchestrating violence against Muslims. The Sena is alleged by some 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 organized attacks against Muslims."[26] However, Thackeray was absolved of all criminal charges in July 2000 after seven years of judicial proceedings.[27]

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 or Ramjanmabhoomi issue,[28] 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.[29] He has since reiterated his desire to establish a "Hindustan for Hindus" and "bring Islam in this country down to its knees".[30] However, he has also expressed admiration for Muslims in Mumbai in the wake of the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings perpetrated by Islamic Fundamentalists. In response to threats made by the leader of the communist Samaajwadi Party that accusations of terrorism directed at Indian Muslims would bring about violence from them, Thackeray said that the unity of Mumbaikars (residents of Mumbai) in the wake of the terrorist attacks was "a slap to fanatics of Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi" and that Thackeray "salute(s) those Muslims who participated in the two minutes' silence on July 18 to mourn the blast victims"[31]

Allegations of damaging cricket pitches[]

Additionally, as part of their efforts to hamper any collaboration between India and its nuclear rival Pakistan, Shiv Sainiks have damaged cricket pitches in stadiums where the Indian and Pakistani cricket team were scheduled to play. The two instances of the Sena's targeting pitches are the damage 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.[32] The Sena orchestrated these activities in an atmosphere of growing tensions between the two nations.

Protest against the film Fire[]

In Nov 1998, Shiv Sena staged protests against the film Fire. The media alleged that Shiv Sena's protests were because the film depicted a lesbian relationship, which the Sena deemed inappropriate. However, Sena's position was that the film denigrated Hinduism by associating Hindu goddesses with lesbianism [9]. The film was criticized by feminist Madhu Kiswar for denigrating Indian culture [10].

The matinee show of Fire was almost halfway through in a packed house when a group of women belonging to the Shiv Sena Mahila Aghadi—the women's wing of the Sena—barged into the theatre. Accompanied by MLA R. Mirlekar, they smashed glass panes, burnt posters and shouted slogans. However, no crimes were committed other than property destruction [11].

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,[33] and later launched statewide protests mired with isolated incidences of violence in Nagpur, Pune, Nashik and other cities in Maharashtra.[34]

Shiv Sena and 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 torn 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 ,[35] saying "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".Raj Thackeray asserts that MNS could not have vandalized the pictures, seeing as how he and his members revere Bal Thackeray.[36]

Shiv Sena in literature[]

The novelist and Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul mentioned the Shiv Sena in his book India: A Wounded Civilization: "There was one portrait. And interestingly, it was not of the leader of the Shiv Sena or of Shivaji, the 17 th century Maratha King, but of the long-dead Dr. Ambedkar...Popular-and near-ecstatic-movements like the Shiv Sena ritualize many different needs. The Sena here, honouring an angry and (for all his eminence) defeated man, seemed quite different from the Sena the newspapers wrote about." Naipaul asserts that there is a consistent media bias against Shiv Sena, expresses empathy with them and sees them as the only party who care about hygiene and health of the poor in the region.[37] In an interview with Tehelka, Naipaul stated that Indian writers are out-of-touch with the ground realities of Shiv Sena and their activities with the lower classes of the region.[38]

Writer Suketu Mehta discussed the Shiv Sena in Maximum City, his 2004 book on Mumbai. Mehta interviewed Bal Thackeray and a number of street-level Shiv Sena members, and claims that they admitted to "gang violence on Muslims".

Recent electoral victories[]

Template:Current 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 [12]. They have achieved this on the platform of preference to Maharashtrians, which appealed to their vote bloc [13].

The Sena-led combine, which had suffered serious reverses in all the assembly by-elections in the past two years got a bare majority on its own by winning 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 [14][15].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Know Your Party: Shiv Sena". Retrieved on July 22, 2006.
  2. Mariam Dossal Imperial Designs and Indian Realities. The Planning of Bombay City 1845-1875 (Delhi: Oxford University Press) 1991 pp24-5
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Sena fate: From roar to meow". The Times of India (2005-11-29). Retrieved on August 11, 2006. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Public sector, Threats against other communities, businesses owned especially by Guj and Marwaris/" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Public sector, Threats against other communities, businesses owned especially by Guj and Marwaris/" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Marshall Windmiller "The Politics of States Reorganization in India: The Case of Bombay" Far Eastern Survey Vol. 25, No. 9 (Sep., 1956) pp. 129-143 (for those with access to JSTOR)
  5. E.Annamalai "The Samyukta Maharastra Movement" Language Movements in India[1]
  6. Ibid
  7. Suketu Mehta Maximum City. Bombay lost and found (New York) 2004 pp98-9
  8. "Shiv Sena On The Threshold Of Disintegration". The Indian Express via Retrieved on July 22, 2006.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "'The General' in his labyrinth". The Hindu. Retrieved on August 11, 2006.
  10. "NCP attracts EC ire on campaign spoofs". Yahoo News. Retrieved on August 6, 2006.
  11. "Profile: Bombay's militant voice". BBC news. Retrieved on July 13, 2006.
  12. Shiv Sena's entry makes pro-Kannada units see red,The Hindu
  13. "Thackeray inaugurates new Sena bhavan". NDTV news. Retrieved on July 29, 2006.
  14. "On the wrong track". The Hindu. Retrieved on August 11, 2006.
  15. "Diversionary tactics". The Hindu Frontline Magazine. Retrieved on August 8, 2008.
  16. p Rediff News.
  17. Dharavi slum will be economic hub: Joshi
  18. Driving to nowhere
  19. Address loopholes in CAS: Shiv Sena,The Hindu Business Line
  20. Shiv Sena’s views,The Tribune
  21. Eckert, Julia M., The Charisma of Direct Action: Power, Politics and the Shiv Sena, Oxford University Press; pages 307
  22. THE LAST JEWS IN INDIA AND BURMA, Nathan Katz and Ellen S. Goldberg, Jerusalem Letter
  23. "Tough love for Indian Valentines". BBC news. Retrieved on July 13, 2006.
  24. "Bala Saheb justifies attack on Zee TV". The Indian Express. Retrieved on August 16, 2006.
  25. "Revolt In The Shiv Sena: death-knell for a fascist party?". The Kashmir Times accessed via website of the Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières association. Retrieved on July 22, 2006.
  26. "The Shiv Sena indicted". The Hindu Frontline Magazine. Retrieved on August 8, 2008.
  27. "Firebrand Thackeray let off the hook". The Asian Times online edition. Retrieved on August 8, 2008.
  28. [2]
  29. Rediff Know your Party: Shiv Sena
  30. Hindustan of Hindus my dream: Thackeray, Press Trust of India
  31. [3]
  32. "Spreading its wings". The Hindu Frontline Magazine. Retrieved on August 13, 2006.
  33. "Shiv Sainiks run amok, Maha on high alert". The Indian Express. Retrieved on July 9, 2006.
  34. "Maharashtra faces the wrath of Shiv Sena". The Hindustan Times. Retrieved on July 22, 2006.
  35. "Shiv Sena workers, Raj supporters clash". The Hindu. Retrieved on October 17, 2006.
  36. "Sena vs new Sena, 30 injured". The Indian Express. Retrieved on October 18, 2006.
  37. V.S. Naipaul: A Wounded Civilization, p.65.
  38. "Indian writers don't know why their country is in such a mess",Tehelka interview with Naipaul

See also[]

External links[]

Books and articles[]

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-oct-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)


  • 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

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