Shiv Sena is a regional political party based in Maharashtra. The party was founded in the year 1960 by the cartoonist turned politician Bal Thackeray. The party subscribes to the Hindu nationalist ideology of “Hindutva” which was first propounded by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the renowned and controversial freedom fighter from Maharashtra. The party has remained mired in controversy since its inception due to its various aggressive actions. Shiv Sena is known for its parochial politics and anti-immigrant stance. In fact, Shiv Sena carried out many attacks against the South-Indian community in Mumbai in its initial years in a bid to increase the employment opportunities for the Marathi youth. The anti-Muslim stance of the party is also well known in the country. The party is currently a part of the BJP led NDA government at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
These are the ten interesting facts about Shiv Sena.
10. First victory
Shiv Sena tasted its first electoral success in the year 1967 when it won 17 out of the 40 seats in Thane civic polls. The party followed this up by winning 42 seats out of the 121 seats in the Mumbai civic polls in the year 1968.
9. Entry into the Lok Sabha
The party unsuccessfully fought the 1971 and the 1980 Lok Sabha elections. It was in the year 1989 that the party first entered the lower house of the parliament by winning a solitary seat. The party had fielded just three candidates and polled more than three lakh votes.
8. Alliance with the BJP
Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the year 1989 for both the general elections and the Maharashtra assembly polls. This alliance came to power in the state in the year 1995. The Shiv Sena-BJP government ruled from 1995-1999. The alliance successfully contested the 2014 general elections but split prior to the assembly polls in the same year although the party agreed to join the BJP government in Maharashtra after the results. The alliance currently governs the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
7. Support for Emergency
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in the country in the year 1975 and suspended the fundamental rights of the citizens. It is considered a dark chapter in the history of Indian democracy. Bal Thackeray, the chief of Shiv Sena, publicly extended his support to the emergency even though his party was in opposition to the ruling Congress party.
6. Face offs with law
Shiv Sena is known for its continuous confrontations with the law and order machinery. In the year 1969, the party supremo Bal Thackeray was arrested for inciting a border dispute with Karnataka and calling for a Mumbai Bandh which led to violence in the city. In the year 1970, Shiv Sena cadres were arrested in the murder case of Communist leader Krishna Desai who was the MLA from Parel. In the year 1998, the Srikrishna Commission found the party guilty of violence in the 1992 Mumbai riots. Other incidents include the damaging of a cricket pitch by Shiv Sena members which was due to host a cricket match between India and Pakistan and the defacing of the IBN7 news channel’s office for criticizing Bal Thackeray.
5. Praise for Adolf Hitler
Bal Thackeray, the founder and supreme leader of the party until his death is 2012, has always been at the center of controversies. He supported the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and called him an artist. His words of praise for a genocidal dictator was not well received by the people and is still criticized by many.
4. Support to Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, was under the eye of a storm after the 2002 post Godhra communal riots happened under his Chief Ministership. Modi was accused of complicity in the riots(later proved wrong) and there was a growing demand for his removal even by the BJP’s allies. Under such circumstances, Shiv Sena extended its support to Modi with Bal Thackeray warning the BJP of any such action by stating that they would lose Gujarat if Modi is removed. At present, though, the relations between Modi and the Shiv Sena leadership has soured.
3. Unusual tradition
The party Supremo Bal Thackeray led the party in various elections, though he himself never stood as a candidate in any polls. This is quite unusual in Indian politics. He was also never inclined towards the Chief Ministership of his state. In the year 1995 when his party won 73 seats in the assembly polls and came to power in alliance with the BJP, Thackeray appointed Manohar Joshi as the Chief Minister. Uddhav Thackeray, the son of Bal Thackeray, who took over the mantle of the party after Bal Thackeray’s demise in 2012, seems to be continuing the tradition by not contesting both the general elections and the Maharashtra assembly polls in 2014.
2. Aggressive opposition to Pakistan
Shiv Sena is known for its aggressive posturing against Pakistan. The party opposes Pakistani actors in Bollywood, cricket matches with Pakistan and favors cutting off ties with the neighbouring country. The party recently stopped Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali from performing in Mumbai. It also routinely criticizes the current government at the centre for being soft on Pakistan.
1. Hindu Hriday Samrat
The founder of Shiv Sena, late Bal Thackeray is known as the Hindu Hriday Samrat meaning the ruler of the Hindu hearts. His name still commands both respect and awe among people.