Shiv Sena (IAST: Śiva Sēnā) (lit.'Army of Shivaji') is a right-wing Marathi regionalist and Hindu ultranationalist political party in India founded in 1966 by cartoonist Bal Thackeray.[12] Originally emerging from nativist movements in Bombay (present-day Mumbai), the party agitates for preferential treatment for the Marathi people over migrants from other parts of India.[13] Its election symbol for Maharashtra is Bow and Arrow.[14] Uddhav Thackeray, Bal Thackeray's son, is party leader and served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra between 2019 To 29 June 2022.

Shiv Sena
PresidentUddhav Thackeray
Lok Sabha leaderVinayak Raut
Rajya Sabha leaderSanjay Raut
FounderBalasaheb Thackeray
Founded19 June 1966 (56 years ago) (1966-06-19)
HeadquartersShivsena Bhavan, Dadar, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Student wingBharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS)
Youth wingYuva Sena
Women's wingShiv Sena Mahila Aghadi
IdeologyMarathi regionalism[1][2]
Social conservatism[4]
Hindu nationalism[6]
Economic nationalism[7]
Right-wing populism[9]
Political positionRight-wing[10] to far-right[11]
ECI StatusState Party
AllianceNDA (1988–2019)
MVA (2019–present) (Maharashtra)
Seats in Lok Sabha
7 / 543
(Without Rebel MPs)
Seats in Rajya Sabha
3 / 245
Seats in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly
(Without Rebel MLAs)
15 / 288
Seats in Maharashtra Legislative Council
11 / 78
Election symbol
Indian Election Symbol Bow And Arrow.svg
Party flag
Shiv Sena-1575560401.jpg

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] and 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 Indian National Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in a bid to form the government in Maharashtra. Later this alliance lost power after Eknath Shinde, a rebel Shiv Sena leader gathered the support of 2/3rd of the Sena MLAs along with BJP and became the Chief Minister on June 30, 2022.[16][17]

The party has a powerful hold over the Hindi film industry.[18] It has been referred to as an "extremist",[19][20] "chauvinist",[21][22] as well as a "fascist party".[23][24] Shiv Sena has been blamed for the 1970 communal violence in Bhiwandi, the 1984 Bhiwandi riot, and violence in the 1992–1993 Bombay riots.[25][26]

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.[27]



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.[28] 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 began a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for seats in the Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly from 1989. The two formed a government in Maharashtra between 1995 and 1999.[29] The Sena was the opposition party in the state along with the BJP from 1999 to 2014. However, the 25 year alliance with the BJP was threatened in 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections over seat sharing and both contested the election independently.[29] With the BJP becoming the largest party following the 2014 election, Sena declared opposition. However, after negotiations, Sena agreed to join the government in Maharashtra.[30] 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.[31]

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.[32] But in February 2019, BJP and Shiv Sena again announced alliance for the general elections as well as the 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election.[33] The election saw Shiv Sena lose votes and subsequently declined to support the BJP in forming a government over the BJP's refusal to engage in power-sharing. Shiv Sena withdrew from National Democratic Alliance, precipitating a political crisis in late October-early November 2019, which ultimately led to party leader Uddhav Thackeray becoming Chief Minister through support from the Indian National Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party.[34]

In 2019, Shiv Sena broke away with NDA and joined UPA.[35][36] It formed a sub alliance called Maha Vikas Aghadi to form the government in Maharashtra with Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena leading the ministry.[37]

In 2022, during a party meeting, Uddhav Thackeray explained his move to pull out of NDA to join UPA. "We supported the BJP wholeheartedly to enable them to fulfill their national ambitions. The understanding was they will go national while we will lead in Maharashtra. But we were betrayed and attempts were made to destroy us in our home. So we had to hit back". Thackeray accused BJP of dumping its allies according to its political convenience. He said, "BJP doesn't mean Hindutva. I stand by my comment that Shiv Sena had wasted 25 years in alliance with BJP"[37]

However, Eknath Shinde, a senior Shiv Sena leader, wanted to reestablish the previous BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and rebelled afterwards while gaining majority support of the Sena MLAs.[38]

On 29 June 2022, Uddhav Thackeray resigned from the post of Chief Minister as well as MLC member after the Supreme Court ruled that he must prove his majority. Eknath Shinde took oath as the new Chief Minister with Devendra Fadnavis as Deputy CM on June 30.[17]

The party's Lok Sabha group split on July 19 after 12 of 19 MPs went to the rebel faction led by Shinde.[39]

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.[40] Raj Thackeray later founded a new party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). After the split, clashes have occurred between followers of the two Senas.[citation needed]

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."[41]

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).[42]

Party structure and caste composition


The ShivsenaPramukh (Chief) of the party is the post equivalent to the president of an organisation. This post is an hereditary post.The current ShivsenaPramukh is Uddhav Thackeray while his son Aditya Thackeray being the crowned ShivsenaPramukh.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.[citation needed]

The Sena Bhavan located in the Dadar locality in Mumbai has served as the Headquarters of the Sena since 1976.[43] 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[clarification needed] is affiliated with the Shiv Sena. It advocates the preservation of rights of employment for Maharashtrians in Maharashtra.[44]

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.[45] 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.[46]

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.[45]

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.[45]

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.[45]

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.[27] 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".[47]


Shivsena Bhavan is a building which houses the central office of the Shiv Sena in Mumbai, India.[48] It is located on Ram Ganesh Gadkari Chowk and Shivaji Park in Dadar. It was inaugurated on 19 June 1977. The refurbished Sena Bhavan was inaugurated on 27 July 2006. It has a Copper Statue of Shivaji Maharaj and a Large Poster of Balasaheb Thackeray.

In the 1993 Bombay bombings, a group of terrorists attacked the building as well as a number of other major buildings in the city.[49]

List of Chief Ministers

Following is the list of the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra from Shiv Sena

# Portrait Name Constituency Tenure Assembly
1   Manohar Joshi Dadar 14 March 1995 1 February 1999 3 years, 324 days 9th
2   Narayan Rane Malvan 1 February 1999 18 October 1999 259 days
3   Uddhav Thackeray MLC 28 November 2019 30 June 2022 2 years, 214 days 14th

Shiv Sena ministers in central Government

Electoral performance

Lok Sabha elections

Year Seats won +/-
1 / 48
4 / 48
15 / 48
6 / 48
15 / 48
12 / 48
11 / 48
18 / 48
18 / 48

Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha elections

Year Seats contested Seats won +/- Voteshare (%) +/- (%) Outcome
1990 183
52 / 288
  52 15.94%   15.94% Opposition
1995 169
73 / 288
  21 16.39%   0.45% Government
1999 169
69 / 288
  4   Opposition
2004 163
62 / 288
  7 19.97%  
2009 160
45 / 288
  17 16.26%   3.71%
2014 286
63 / 288
  18 19.35%   3.09% Government
2019 124
56 / 288
  7 16.41%   3.04%
Election Candidates Elected Votes Source
1971 Lok Sabha 5 227,468 [50]
1980 Lok Sabha 2 129,351 [51]
1989 Lok Sabha 3 1 339,426 [52]
1989 Goa Assembly 6   4,960 [53]
1991 Uttar Pradesh Assembly 14 1 45,426 [54]
1991 Lok Sabha 22 4 2,208,712 [55]
1993 Madhya Pradesh Assembly 88 75,783 [56]
1996 Lok Sabha 132 15 4,989,994 [57]
1996 Haryana Assembly 17 6,700 [58]
1997 Punjab Assembly 3 719 [59]
1998 Lok Sabha 79 6 6,528,566 [60]
1998 Delhi Assembly 32 9,395 [61]
1998 Himachal Pradesh Assembly 6 2,827 [62]
1999 Lok Sabha 63 15 5,672,412 [63]
1999 Goa Assembly 14   5,987 [64]
2000 Odisha Assembly 16   18,794 [65]
2001 Kerala Assembly 1   279 [66]
2002 Goa Assembly 15  
2004 Lok Sabha 56 12 7,056,255 [67]
2009 Lok Sabha 22 11 6,828,382 [68]
2014 Lok Sabha 20 18 10,262,981 [67]
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 [69][70]
2017 Goa Assembly 3 0 792 [71][72]
2019 Lok Sabha 23 18 12,589,064
2019 Maharashtra Assembly 124 56 9,049,789 (16.41) [73]

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.[74][75][76][further explanation needed]

In the 1970s, Shiv Sena was opposed to 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.[77]

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.[78][79]

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.[80] 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.[81]

The Sena acted as a "moral police" and opposed Valentine's Day celebrations.[52] On 14 February 2006, Bal Thackeray condemned and apologised for the violent attacks by its Shiv Sainiks on a private celebration in Mumbai. "It is said that women were beaten up in the Nallasopara incident. If that really happened, then it is a symbol of cowardice. I have always instructed Shiv Sainiks that in any situation women should not be humiliated and harassed."[82] Thackeray and the Shiv Sena remained opposed to it, although they indicated support for an "Indian alternative".[83][84]

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.[85][86][87]

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.[88][89] Later this world record was broken by a blood donation camp of HDFC Bank in 2014.[90]

On 2 November 2014, during the Kiss of Love protest against moral policing, members of Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and many other right wing groups opposed and attacked protestors and threatened to strip protestors for kissing on the streets. These opposing groups claimed that public display of affection is against both Indian culture and the law of the land (under section 294 of the Indian Penal Code), though according to the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, kissing in public is not a criminal offence.[91][92] Police took many of the Kiss of Love protestors into custody to save their lives, but were blamed for giving a free hand to counter protestors of the right wing groups.[93]

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.[94] However, in 2015 Pakistan urged the international community to take note of the activities of Shiv Sena,[95] while Shiv Sena claimed that criticism of Shiv Sena by Pakistan vindicates "our patriotism".[96]

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.[97]

In 2015 Shiv Sena announced 10,000 rupees help to each drought-affected farmer of Marathwada region,[98] 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".[99][100]

In January 2016, the Shiv Sena demanded that the words “secular” and “socialist” be “permanently removed” from the Constitution's Preamble which were added in the 42nd amendment during the emergency.[101] In April 2019, party member Sanjay Raut called for the burka to be banned.[102][103]

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.[104][105]

In November 2020, Devendra Fadnavis stated that the view of the Shiv Sena is advocacy for Indian reunification in the form of an Akhand Bharat. He declared that soon "Karachi will be part of India."[106]

See also


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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)

External links