Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena
(est. 1966)
   Shiv Sena is a Maharastrian nationalist group founded in 1966 as a response to a wave of immi-grants to the state and the city of Bombay (Mum-bai) from Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Punjab. The movement tries to protect the interests of middle-class Maharashtrians in the conflict for resources and power. Shiv Sena is primarily a political and ethnic movement, not a religious movement. However, it uses some religious doctrines to sup-port its political and ideological claims.
   The founder of the movement is Balasaheb (Bal) Thackeray (he currently uses the name Don Balasaheb), who is also editor of the Marathi newsletter Marmik, which promotes the group’s ideology. By 1968, Shiv Sena turned their struggle against communists and Muslims. Their tactics are largely political, but they have not eschewed armed conflict. More recently Shiv Sena has begun to recruit members of the lower castes, particu-larly Dalits.
   In 1992 Shiv Sena boasted that it played a central role in the destruction of the Babri Masjid Mosque in AYODHYA. In fact, Shiv Sena activ-ists arrived after the demolition, but they were heavily involved in the riots that followed in Mumbai.
   More recently Shiv Sena has formed an alli-ance with the BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP). Since the BJP losses in the 2004 election the alliance appears to be collapsing. As Bal Thackeray ages, much of the leadership has fallen to his sons, a condition that has weakened the group as a politi-cal force.
   Further reading: Sikata Banerjee, Warriors in Politics: Hindu Nationalism, Violence and the Shiv Sena in India (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000); Julia M. Eck-ert, The Charisma of Direct Action: Power Politics and the Shiv Sena (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Dipankar Gupta, Nativism in the Metropolis: The Shiv Sena in Bombay (New Delhi: Manohar, 1982); Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Ethnicity and Equality: The Shiv Sena Party and Preferential Politics in Bombay (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1979).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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