Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena (IASTŚhiva Sēnā) (lit. ’Army of Shivaji‘) is a right-wingMarathiregionalist and Hinduultranationalist political party in India founded in 1966 by Bal Thackeray.[16] Shiv Sena’s election symbol is the Bow and Arrow. It uses the saffron colour in its flag and a image of a roaring tiger.[17]

Founder Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thackeray Hindu Hriday Samrat (“Emperor of Hindu Hearts”)

Although Shiv Sena’s primary base always remained in Maharashtra, it tried to expand to a pan-Indian base. In the 1970s, it gradually moved from advocating a pro-Marathi ideology to supporting a broader Hindu nationalist agenda,[22] and aligned itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Shiv Sena took part in Mumbai (BMC) municipal elections for its entire existence. In 1989, it entered into an alliance with the BJP for Lok Sabha as well as Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections. The alliance in the latter was temporarily broken in the 2014 elections, although it was quickly reformed. Shiv Sena was a coalition partner in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from 1998 until 2019, including the Vajpayee Government from 1998 to 2004 and the Narendra Modi Government from 2014 to 2019.

Under Uddhav Thackeray, Shiva Sena formed an alliance with its former rivals, the Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, signalling a significant departure from its traditional pro-Hindutva stance.[23][24][25]

The party has had a powerful hold over the Hindi film industry.[26] It has been described as an “extremist“,[27][28] “chauvinist,[29][30] or “fascist” party.[31][32] Shiv Sena has been allegedly involved in the 1970 communal violence in Bhiwandi, the 1984 Bhiwandi riot, and violence in the 1992–1993 Bombay riots.[33][34]

The party draws its strength from the support of the Maratha and Kunbi communities of Maharashtra which Shiv Sena drew away from the Indian National Congress.[35]

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” (Eng : Shiv Sena Supremo).

In late June 2022, Eknath Shinde, a senior Shiv Sena leader, and the majority of MLAs from Shiv Sena joined hands with the BJP.[48][49][50]Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari called for a trust vote, an action that would later on be described as a “sad spectacle” [51] by Supreme Court of India, and draw criticism from Political Observers.[52] Uddhav Thackeray resigned from the post as chief minister well as a MLC member ahead of no-confidence motion on 29 June 2022.[53] Shinde subsequently formed a new coalition with the BJP, and was sworn in as the Chief Minister on 30 June 2022.[54] Uddhav Thackeray filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of India claiming that Eknath Shinde and his group’s actions meant that they were disqualified under the anti-defection law, with Eknath Shinde claiming that he has not defected, but rather represents the true Shiv Sena party.[55] The case is currently being heard by Supreme Court of India.[55][56] The parties split into two factions: Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena led by Shinde and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) led by Thackeray.

Shinde subsequently filed a petition with the Election Commission of India staking his claim to the ‘Shiv Sena’ name and the Bow and Arrow symbol. The ECI ruled in favour of Shinde’s faction based on the strength of its legislative wing, rather than on the organizational wing.[57][58][59] Thackeray appealed against the decision, and the case is currently pending in the Supreme Court