Maharashtra’s ruling ally Shiv Sena, formed 50 years ago on the issue of creating opportunities for Maharashtrians in Mumbai, turns 50 on Sunday. The party will celebrate its golden jubilee with thousands of its party leaders and workers at a grand function at the NSE ground in Goregaon here. Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray will address the gathering. The leadership in the state has already given an indication that Shiv Sena will be in an expansion mode. It will take up the issue of the son of the soil in other states, and will fight on the plank of Hindutva.
At present, Shiv Sena has already established its party units in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal. During the recent state Assembly elections in West Bengal, Shiv Sena entered the poll fray for the first time and managed to earn more votes than the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
“We earned nearly 50,000 votes there, though we didn’t engage in star campaigning. We fought on the issues of the son of the soil and Hindutva. The Hindus there are scared due to the insurgency of Muslims. We took up their cause. Even there, there are many people who idolise Balasaheb Thackeray. In our first attempt, we earned 50,000 votes. It’s an encouraging sign for us. We will continue to fight on the same plank in other states too,” Vinay Shukla “Sir”, North India coordinator of Shiv Sena, told The Sunday Guardian.
Meanwhile, the party plans a huge bash on Sunday in memory of the formation of Shiv Sena by Balasaheb Thackeray in 1966. The party had become an instant hit among the Marathi population in Mumbai. People responded in huge numbers to calls of bandhs and violent agitations made by Balasaheb Thackeray in the late 1960s. The “yandugundu” agitation to protest against South Indian establishments and street vendors was widely popular. Mumbai also responded to Balasaheb Thackeray’s slogan pungi bajao, lungi hatao. Each rally of Balasaheb Thackeray gained tremendous public response. The calls for protest also saw violent outbursts on the streets of Mumbai.
Shiv Sena started with the idea of engaging 80% in social work and 20% in political work. Balasaheb Thackeray had also maintained that he would never enter politics. “You should come ahead to gain power and earn progress for yourself. I will never be a part of this,” he had said in his addresses in several public rallies. From then till now, the party stance has changed. “Now, we will do 100% politics for social good. When one is in power, one can do a lot for public good,” Aditya Thackeray, young Thackeray scion and head of the Yuva Sena, said in an interview here. While answering a question in an interview to a local news channel, Uddhav Thackeray said that Shiv Sena never aimed for complete power. While explaining why the party could never earn power single-handedly in the state, he said that it happened because the party never aimed for it. “We never went chasing power. The coalition with BJP, too, happened not for votes, but for Hindutva,” he said. On the eve of the golden jubilee, various Sena leaders took to Twitter to congratulate the party and talk about its future. “Shiv Sena will not stay limited to Maharashtra now. We will fight for the rights of sons of soil of other states. Shiv Sena will spread its roots in the country on the foundation of Hindutva,” senior leader Arvind Sawant said. On Sunday, the party will showcase a documentary projecting its journey of 50 years. The programme will be adorned by folk art and a play depicting the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj. There will be an exhibition of the changes in Maharashtra due to Bal Thackeray’s “vision”. The party will inaugurate a campaign for giving primary memberships to citizens.