ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Notorious Becomes ‘Normal’

Third Life of the Shiv Sena

The most crucial issue is whether, in their reincarnations, parties can substantially give up on the characteristics inherited from the time of their foundation. The example of the Shiv Sena suggests that moderation and normalisation do take place but the predominant tendency is to convert notoriety into normal.

As one looks back at the destruction of the Babri Masjid from a quarter of a century away, what strikes one more than the memory is the present. The party that spearheaded the agitation leading up to those events of 6 December 1992 is not only ensconced in power but is also seen as a respectable party working towards “development.” It is this conversion of notoriety into “normal” that also marks the (only) ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) (at that point), the Shiv Sena.

Was the Shiv Sena directly complicit in the vandalism at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992? Its founder, Bal Thackeray, is said to have made the claim that his brave sainiks (party workers) were among the ones who were atop the demolished structure (Rediff.com 2009). Not many believed this. In any case, Thackeray had a complicated relationship with both the Ayodhya agitation and various Hindutva organisations. He was sceptical about the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) because Ashok Singhal and other leaders were hogging the limelight. Thackeray also ridiculed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for being far too sober and passive. His criticism of the RSS came from being sceptical of Brahmins on the one hand and from his affinity towards Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s idea of militant Hinduism rather than what the RSS would usually call “cultural” activity, on the other.

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Updated On : 4th Dec, 2017

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