How is Raj Thackeray personally - the information portal on South Asia


The millennium ended with a crisis for the Shivsena. The party that has established itself in Maharashtra since its founding in 1966 with a program of Hindu nationalism riddled with violent actions and populist gestures, and which in 1995, in conjunction with the BJP, succeeded in securing the Congress Party in its West Indian stronghold disempowered, lost the state government elections in October 1999. A coalition of the Congress (I) and the newly founded National Congress Party (NCP) under Maharashtra's big man Sharad Pawar (1) took over the government in this western federal state, which the Shivsena claims to rule simply because of its regionalist positions. The party seemed to have reached its limits after its first term in office. (2) What critics had always predicted for her seemed to come true: She, who acted as a militant protest movement against the political establishment, and who the golden age of Shivshahi, the rule of the warrior king Shivaji, promised to bring, the same thing as other movements: it would lose its "charisma" in the absence of success and simply dissolve. However, such forecasts could turn out to be premature this time too.

As early as 1981, when the Shivsena was only 15 years old, Dipankar Gupta doubted that the party could develop into a permanent political force. "The possibility of the Shivsena being able to reach its goals through legitimate means is ruled out. This also determines the possibility of the Shivsena being able to attain its goals through violence and coercion, and by defying legitimate authority. The Shivsena however does not have this capacity and it knows it. " (Gupta 197-198) Since then, the party's imminent end has been predicted again and again. In 1980, when she lost most of her seats in the Bombay Municipality, she was pronounced dead; In 1984 it was said that their potential was exhausted. (3) But a little later in the communalist riots in Bhivandi it established itself as one of the most violent among the Hindu nationalist organizations and in 1985 received the majority in the Bombay Municipality, which it has ruled since then. Nevertheless, in 1992 it was said again that the party was at an end. (4) This was followed by the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya and the serious communal riots in Bombay in the winter of 1992/93, in which the party was significantly involved, and in 1995 the Shivsena won the elections for the Maharashtric representation in coalition with the BJP.

In recent years, the Shivsena has repeatedly been elected to the ruling party in Bombay, in Maharashtra, and now for the third time in the all-India parliament, the Lok Sabha, and has governed since 1998 together with its ideological partner, the BJP, and other 21 parties all of India. Despite many setbacks, which often plunged the party into massive internal crises, in its 35-year history it has repeatedly been able to regenerate itself and to mobilize further supporters and voters. Their successes were always related to militant agitations that served to construct an enemy whom it was allegedly of existential necessity to fight.

The politics of violent action, on which the Shivsena's power and influence are based, offers - this is the thesis here - a mode of participation which fulfills the promise of democratic participation in a certain sense and which at the same time monopolizes the claims to this participation. It is based on the direct participation of its supporters in the activism that is constitutive for the party and the local power established through it. It is based on organization as a movement, which is characterized by leader-centeredness, a division of labor between the movement and the ruling party as is typical for many movements, and the integration of local power and extra-everyday agitation in their local associations, the Shakhas. The Shivsena has thus succeeded in neither bureaucratising itself nor in traditionalising itself, but in institutionalizing itself as a movement, which is apparently a contradiction in terms.

The action as a program

The Shivsena began as one of many regionalist movements that in the 1960s demanded privileges for the indigenous populations of the respective states. It was not until the early 1980s, when many of her regionalist demands were met and communalism was generally gaining weight in Indian politics, that she placed Hindu nationalist positions in the foreground of her agitations. Although she has little involvement in the drafting of the complex ideological construct of Hindutum, Hindutva, as propagated by organizations such as the RSS, the VHP and their political wing, the BJP, the Shivsena stylizes itself as the vigilante (4a) savior of the Nation, as the "Army of Shivaji", so the literal meaning of Shivsena.

It refers to the legendary warlord who successfully fought the Mughal armies in the 17th century, and who has become the first nationalist, and above all the symbol of the belligerent Hindu, since the 19th century and the beginnings of Indian nationalism. "Our regime will bring back the rule that existed during Shivaji Raja‘s time" declared Manohar Joshi when he took office in 1995 as the first Shivsena chief minister in Maharashtra. In the Shivsena's vision, Shivshahi is the just rule of the warrior king, autocratic rule. It is the benevolent dictatorship that Thackeray invokes again and again since the existence of the Shivsena: "I believe in dictatorship. This country needs a dictator very badly." (5) The call for dictatorship is initially a provocative positioning, part of the vague program that replaces content with militancy. It is justified by the reference to the corruption of the state, or rather the Congress party that has ruled it for the longest time: Nehruvian democracy and secularism are accused, true to the Hindu nationalist positions, the rights of the "majority", the Hindus, to have betrayed. This also legitimizes the violence and activism with which the Shivsena claims to defend the nation. (6)

"Nations which do not raise even a finger to resist, perish." (7) "Hindutva is not a wave. It is a question of survival of our future generations, it is the breath of our life! If a Muslim is thrown out of any country, there are other Muslim nations where he can take refuge. Where will Hindus go? Except for our Hindu nation and neighboring Nepal, there is no other place we can go to. That's why we have to protect our Hindu land, and if need be, sacrifice our lives to save Hindutva. Destroy the forces which have converted the Lok Sabha into a Bhog Sabha! " (8th)

In accordance with the positions of the Hindu nationalist organizations of the Sangh Parivar, Thackeray sees Muslims in particular as the danger to be fought and represents a strictly anti-pluralist vision of the Indian nation: "Muslims in Hindustan are behaving as part of Pakistan . There are two countries in this nation. " (9) "These poisonous snakes who under the name of religion like rats nibble at our country, and like snakes bite the stone of liberty .... if by tightening the ropes around their necks we do not show them their place, then after 50 years there no Hindu will remain on the world map. " (10) "They have gone beyond 150 million now. Why so much is our question? Go to cinema. Go to drama. What are you doing sitting at home? We go to the cinema, everything is in order, that is fine family planning ... They do not have any other work! You asses, haven't you been given Pakistan? Then go there. Lessen the burden on the land. " (11) "Why should elections in India depend on the votes of the Shah Imam and Syed Shahabuddin? To honor their emotions, why are the sentiments of 60 crore Hindus trampled upon? To hell with your secularism! In this country Hinduism and Hindus should be respected first. This is our birthright, and if the government denies it to us, we know how to get it. " (12)

Not only the supposedly omnipresent confrontation, the requirement for a preventive offensive, but also the rejection of the parliamentary form of politics, of "ideological talk" justify the party's activism. Actionism becomes a substitute for (parliamentary) politics and is morally superior to it because it is not only efficient but also guided solely by so-called "national and human necessities" (13). "Our ideology is to get things done. Our method is force. We are Shivsainiks ... What is politics? Politics is just good administration. So our politicians don't know politics ... All that political talk is ideology. Even the BJP just talks ideology ... They just come and talk and go. We solve their problems ... We want to get things done. India has so many problems, and our Mumbai will die. But the politicians only talk. You need to do something. " (14)

The Shivsena proclaims to protect the just order of Hindu society precisely by breaking the laws of that society. "Fie upon the law that does not protect us." (15) "This law can't give justice to the people." (16) "Where the law and police are unable to do anything, the Shivsena has to show its chamatkar [Magie, JE]." (17)

This vigilant attitude is the basis of the anti-institutional vision of the political that the party represents. The cult of the Führer, the cult of the autocratic organization and the cult of the action prescribed by the Führer replace a program. Action, "to get things done", is the creed of the Shivsainiks, the "soldiers" of the movement.

Shivshahi and the Shakhas

Far beyond its own membership, the Shiv Sena has a reputation for "doing" things, for ensuring "law and order", laying water pipes, covering houses and setting up cheap bread stalls. A supporter of the party from the country was convinced: "With the Shivsena we can solve problems. They were the first ones to bring water pipes. They did it in five years. I don't know where the money came from. The roads are so bad that you fall in the night. Now they are paved. We got electricity from a dam. All children like the Sena, they love Bal Thackeray ... The Congress has not managed this in 40 years. "

"Now we are with the Shivsena," explained another. "The previous Congress only talked but didn't do anything. They were leaders. ... I joined the Shivsena because locally they have the strength. They are very dangerous persons. They killed so many Muslims, threw bombs and so on. Now they are leaders ... Congress let us down. The Congress has been worked away from the hearts of the people ... The Sena candidate needs our votes. He can't win without us. So he will look after our area well. He will be able to do something when the Sena is in power. He can get money. " (18)

Roti, Kapre aur Makan: Bread, clothes and houses was the motto of the Shivsena when the electoral commission forced them to refrain from communist agitation. The party promised to build four million homes for the slum dwellers of Bombay; she promised to distribute simple meals, zhunka bhakar, to the poor for only one rupee. In order to finally win the strongholds of the Congress Party in rural Maharashtra, it initiated numerous development programs. These populist ventures by the Hindutva Alliance, however, put such a strain on the state budget that Maharahstra's debts more than doubled in the four years of her reign. (19) The programs had to be quickly abandoned: of the 4 million apartments, around 1000 have been built so far. (20) The Zhunka Bhakar stalls have been lucratively rented out by members of the Shivsena to snack bar operators who sell Chinese noodles there.

What remains are the new names that the Shivsena gave to the streets of Bombay, the squares and public facilities, and indeed the city itself, which has since been called Mumbai, with which the party identified its claims to ownership of the public space, India and its history . What remains is the American energy company Enron, which served as a symbol of the imperialist version of globalization in the BJP's election campaign. This orthodox version of Swadeshi, national self-sufficiency and the renunciation of imported goods was quickly abandoned when Shivsena and BJP took over the government (Hansen 1998, 300). Now the slogan was: 'computer chips yes, potato chips no' and the Shivsena BJP government largely continued the liberalization policy that had been initiated by the Congress party since 1990. Bal Thackeray had always proclaimed: "If you stretch the Swadeshi idea too far you have to live in darkness." (21)

What remains is the Muslims' fear of the unsanctioned power of the Shivsainiks. Because the first thing the Shivsena did when it came to power in Maharashtra in 1995 was to suspend both the Minority Commission and the Srikrishna Commission, which investigated the communal riots of 1992/93. The Srikrishna Commission was reinstated in 1996 under pressure from the BJP government in Delhi. And the Minorities Commission has been convened again by the Congress government, which narrowly won the 1999 elections in Maharashtra. But the report of the commission on the riots, to which the Shivsena, and especially Bal Thackeray, had significant responsibility, had no consequences (Eckert 2000), and so the Muslims of Bombay remained concerned that what the Shivsena constantly threatened would repeat itself. "Although it is democracy it is like dictatorship. It feels like that. Everybody does what they want .... The municipality workers, the police, they are all with the Shivsena. The police does not take action for Muslims. Muslim doesn ' t get justice from anywhere, not even from the high court ... There are so many Hindu criminals. The Shivsena is full of them. They can create a riot any time. But right now it does not suit them. "

The fact that the Shivsena's programs mostly achieved nothing but symbolic success was drowned out in the widespread cynicism of state services. (22)

But it is above all the Shakhas, the local groups of the Shivsena, who give the party its reputation for solving problems of everyday urban life and for being the decisive power at the local level. The party thanks them, their supporters, because the Shakhas are both the base and the center of the Shivsena. In Bombay alone there are about 210 Shakhas, to which 40,000 Sainiks belong. (23) They are primarily dedicated to neighborhood work, provide social services, job fairs and arbitration tribunals, organize cultural activities, promote religious and regional festivals, collect donations, claim to ensure law and order, and are thus involved in the organization of the Everyday and the extraordinary made indispensable. In the Shakhas, the Shiv Sena successfully combines its role in government with a para-state apparatus that has become a central point of contact for the needs of the population in many areas of Bombay and, since the expansion of the party into rural areas in the 1980s, in many small towns and villages in Maharashtra and replaced the state. Especially where the institutions of the state are present, but the state does not fulfill its promise of development and its commitment to administration and infrastructure, the Shakhas act as local legislature, judiciary and executive at the same time.

Contrary to the image of solidarity organization under the strict leadership of the charismatic leader, which the Shivsena likes to present, the Shakhas operate in a mixture of autonomy and centralized control. They finance themselves, find their specific local alliance partners and competitors, and organize their own activities. They cooperate in larger actions, and above all follow relatively general directives issued by Thackeray with regard to daily politics and ideological positions. In this regard, all members, from the lowest Sainik to the twelve Netas, the "national executive", display absolute obedience to Thackeray. The unconditional oaths of loyalty, which all Sainiks make unsolicited, and which culminate in the fact that the ministers of the Shiv Sena describe themselves as puppets in the hand of Bal Thackeray, are true to the ideal of charismatic movements, with love for Bal Thackeray and with his charisma justified. (24)

The belief in the sole authority and decision-making power of Thackeray is decisive beyond the action orientation for the alignment of the ambitions of the members. His monopoly on promotions and appointments replaces formal rules of promotion. Even if success in the public arena, in the territory of one's own Shakha, is ultimately decisive for the rank of the Sainiks, apart from the appointment by Thackeray there is no way of advancement in the party. Loyalty is therefore centered on his person - a structural feature that can also pose a threat to the unity of the organization, but at the same time integrates the local power centers, which are autonomous to different degrees, through competition for positions within the party apparatus.

First of all, the autonomy of the individual Shakhas means that they, or their chairmen, the Shakha Pramukhs, can lay claim to territorial control, which applies to the monetary income from an area, but also to the right to license, control over public ones Funds and their distribution etc. extends.Due to the lucrative possibilities of local rule, rivalries occasionally arise within the Shivsena, which can be fatal. But the party also competes with other criminal gangs for territorial supremacy, and in recent years has been able to use the police on its side. (25) The establishment of such powerful sub-centers of the Shivsena, which, as in the case of Ganesh Naik in Navi Mumbai, can successfully become independent if they consider further expansion within the party to be impossible, has led some observers to suspect , the Shivsena would be in a process of dissolution. "The party‘s organizational coherence may be faltering" (Katzenstein, Mehta, Thakkar 1998, 234).

However, the autonomy of the Shakhas is not a new development, nor is it a sign of a lack of control. It may have strengthened as the party expanded, and with increasing resources and increased control over state funds and licenses in the years since 1985 when the Shivsena first won a majority in Bombay Municipality, but it is a structural one Basic characteristic of the party and constitutive for the generation and assertion of the power of the Shivsena. For the factual diffusion of power on the level of the Shakhas affects large parts of the Shivsena's operations, and it is the actions and activities of the Shakhas that have brought the Shivsena a following and also simply dependent clients. These bring the necessary votes in order to legally, democratically fill formal positions of power. The formal offices in turn open up - legally or illegally - access to resources that can be invested in social services in order to mobilize further voices. At the same time, through control of the state authorities, the party can protect the movement's illegal actions from sanctions. Legal and illegal means of conquering the institutions and positions of power are thus closely related, and the collective power of the party and the local power of the individual Shakhas constitute one another.

The promise

Bal Thackeray repeatedly stylized the power of the Sena as the power of the people. "I have got power. And that power is the people. The people are my power." (26) The appearance of direct representation is produced by portraying Thackeray as a "man of the people". His style (supposedly) reflects hers, his preferences her wishes and dreams; and in this it differs from the style of those who dominate politics and society. Because he uses slang, peppering his speeches with swear words and crude jokes, but above all because he repeatedly makes fun of the softening of the elites and intellectuals, he becomes "one of them", "he feels the pulse." of the common people ", (27) he speaks their language, lives their dreams, and he has power.

With this he confirms that power is due to this style, to these forms of life, and power need not be limited to those who are capable of the conventional and elitist forms. It is the "self-assertion" of the "man of the street" that is celebrated here. Cultural affinities create understanding here, and understanding makes the representation direct: Because the Shivsena or Bal Thackeray supposedly speaks "the language of the people", it is "actually" democratic; it claims to embody the interests of "the people" and is convincing because it does not exclude "the people" either through polished speeches or through institutional hurdles: the Shakhas are accessible to everyone; Thackeray's language is accessible to everyone; Bal Thackeray himself seems approachable. (28) "Shivsena stands out distinctly ... identifying itself with the aspirations of the people." (29) Through the government of the Shivsena, the state has been retaken for "the people", where it had previously been monopolized by an allegedly alienated, westernized elite.

The claim is made against the establishment, as well as against the minorities, the alleged "pets of the state". Because whoever belongs to the "people", to the "common people" whom the Shivsena claims to represent, determines the Shivsena in its enemy images. What the Shivsena promises is that those who elect it will be part of the people it defines, including those who are therefore spared from its violence. Because whoever chooses the Sena is part of the nation that the Shivsena defends. On the other hand, there is the threat that those who do not vote for the Shivsena will automatically become the enemies of the nation to be fought. In the Shivsena ideology there is no space between absolute integration and absolute exclusion (Heuzé 1995, 234). Bal Thackeray has often pointed out that there would be no violent riots as long as the Shivsena was in power. (30) And in his 1999 election speeches, he again prophesied violence against Muslims if the Shivsena fell. (31) The victims of the party understand the implicit threat: "As long as they are in power, they will leave us alone. So we vote for them, too," a Muslim told Bombays.

Participation and Violence

But the construction of direct participation is not limited to the discursive level, it is not purely rhetorical populism. The factual diffusion of power on the level of the Shakhas helps to allow all their members to participate in this power. Because the politics of the Shivsena is based entirely on the actions of their local associations, the Shakhas, and thus on the participation and commitment of their members, the Sainiks. Since their actions and activities are constitutive for the local power and influence of the Shivsena, the Sainiks experience their central role for the party. And everyone can be part of the local power that the Shivsena have built in their Shakhas. Because at the Shakhas' neighborhood level, the collective power of the Shivsena becomes the individual power of the Sainiks, who can demand local obedience.

Here the action and the power derived from it are perceived as emancipatory, as empowerment. It is the joy of helping, the joy of being able to achieve something, the joy of being important, the joy of exerting power. Many spoke openly about their joy in the power to get things done against the will of those affected: power over the husbands who have to bow to the arbitration awards of the Sena family courts because otherwise they are threatened with being beaten; Power over opponents, who can also be silenced with threats or physical attacks; Power over the public space, where a "bandh", a general strike ordered by the Shiv Sena, brings everything to a standstill; Power over Bombay, where Bal Thackeray, the unelected leader, is in charge and Shiv Sainiks claim executive power; Power over the police and judiciary, which is expressed in the inviolability, the non-suspicion of the deeds of the Shiv Sena. This local power has grown since the Shivsena also held government offices.

The joy of doing is, of course, not specific to the Shivsena; but the opportunities for action offered by the Shivsena are specific to its policy of direct action. The direct action remains informal. Everyone can take part, because it does not require any special knowledge or expertise, just everyday knowledge, time, commitment, and the number and clout of the Sainiks. Most importantly, these actions are largely risk-free. Legal actions against Sainiks and Bal Thackeray are rare and their prosecution is even rarer. Victims resign: "I am a small man. I have to live and work in Bombay. What more can I say?" (32) Even the former Deputy Municipal Commissioner Khairnar, who leads a campaign against corruption and was therefore physically attacked by the Shivsena, said: "I have not followed up the case because I know nothing will ever come out of it." (33) Only two of the 24 lawsuits brought against Bal Thackeray between 1984 and 1997 for sedition are pending; the other 22 have been rejected or closed (CPDR, 1997). In 1998, the Shivsena government under Manohar Joshi also declared an amnesty for all "politically motivated" crimes, including the Sainiks attacks. (34)

It was partly the concern that a conviction of Bal Thackeray could lead to further outbreaks of violence, which in the party's 35-year history has repeatedly led to reluctance on the part of state institutions: "The anticipated consequences were a deterrent to taking preventive action against leaders of the Shivsena "reported police inspector VNDeshmukh on the occasion of the investigations into the communal riots of 1993. (35) A scenario with which Thackeray himself often threatens:" If you arrest me Maharashtra will burn ... the repercussions will be felt all over the country. " (36) The permanence of the threat of violence itself became a means of domination. But the lack of sanctions also had a system. The Shivsena was first and foremost an organization that was sponsored by the Congress Party to take action against the communist parties and trade unions in Bombay.

The former Police Commissioner of Bombay Ribeiro recalls in his autobiography: "The Congress chief minister [Vasantrao Naik, JE] decided to use the gift of rhetoric that Bal Thackeray possessed to combat the leftist forces. He covertly encouraged Thackeray to form the Sena. This organization was built on fascist lines as an antidote to the Communists ... The police were obviously instructed to treat the Sainiks leniently ... the government was not averse to the attacks taking place "(Ribeiro 1998, 116). Gupta stated in his early study of the party: "It has been advantageous for the allies of the Sena to allow the latter to successfully stage limited operations ... As a dormant and passive force it was of no use to the ruling party ... "(Gupta 1982, 177) And when the Shivsena came to the government through the possibilities of patronage gained through the use of unsanctioned violence, the sanctions for their actions became even less.

Through the opportunities for action that the policy of direct action creates - under the conditions of freedom from sanctions - it fulfills for its supporters and members something of the promise of participation that the (anti-colonial) democratic discourse has enforced as state legitimation. This concerns first of all the definition of the sovereign in the democratic order, the essentialist construction of the people, which the Shivsena represents both in its ideological populism and in the symbolism of its practice. The Shakas also enable a form of direct participation that is based on the democratic idea, but is not fulfilled by parliamentary democracy. An analysis that sees the Shivsena's attractiveness in the offer of solidarity and security in an otherwise increasingly anonymous urban environment (Heuzé 1995, Patel 1997) must at least be supplemented by a focus on the possibilities for action that it offers individuals through their collective organization . This form of politics offers not only identity constructs and not only status, but spaces of real, practical opportunities for action and power. This seems to be the success and attraction of this form of politics.

The Shivsena has established itself in the formal positions of power through the informal structures of power, which are concentrated in the Shakhas and there open up room for action and participation in local power for the members of the party. Social services and threats have brought the party their votes - partly because of the conviction, partly out of dependence of their voters. (37) Through these electoral successes, the Shivsena enabled people from social groups to enter politics who were previously largely excluded from it. "From the lanes of Chembur to Mantralaya", (38) "From a housemaid to state minister", (39) read the headlines when the Shivsena appoints ministers.

"Because it was new in 1968 and was not yet beholden to long-time party workers, the Sena, alone among Bombay parties, was able to convoy large numbers of people with limited political experience into higher levels of leadership. The Sena leadership is" new "not only in the sense that it comprises people lacking earlier political notoriety; it is also new with respect to the socioeconomic groups it represents." (Katzenstein 1979, 119) For a long time, political mobility in Maharashtra was blocked by the monopoly of the Congress Party on political posts and opportunities for advancement. The so-called Congress System (Kothari 1964, Frankel 1990), in which some influential families of the Maratha caste dominated in Maharashtra (Lele 1990), was broken up by the expansion of the Shivsena. This expansion, and with it the party's offers to political newcomers, was based largely on communalist mobilization (Purandare 1999). Communalist agitation served the expansion because it re-articulated castes and class relations and founded electoral alliances that could be opposed to the incorporation structures of the Congress system (Hansen 1996b).

The Shivsena still offers opportunities for advancement for those who are not integrated into the congress system and its splintering. (40) These opportunities for advancement are the myth of the Shivsena, the "upstart party" as it describes itself, this local organization that has succeeded in defeating the almighty Congress party in its Maharashtrian stronghold. (41) The Shivsena, in this respect, is a product of the city in which it grew. It echoes the fables of success that are produced here like hardly anywhere else in India, this Indian version of the American dream in which the dishwasher becomes a millionaire, the spotboy becomes a film star, and a cartoonist becomes the "remote control chief minister" . It is the Shivsena's promise to circumvent the rules of Indian politics, which is based on the informal organizational structure, the autocratically organized opportunities for advancement and direct action. But Thackeray and the party can only keep this promise as long as it expands, as long as there are new posts and new benefices to be allocated. Therefore, every failure is a threat to these promises as well, and thus also to the organizational myth of charismatic loyalty.

Back to the movement

Solidarity, loyalty and obedience are therefore closely linked to hope, to aspirations. When the Shivsena suffered several election failures in a row at the height of its power in 1998 and 1999, a massive crisis broke out in it. Not that the loss of parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha elections of 1998 would have jeopardized the local structures of power and the income owed to it. The Shivsena's local power rests on the control of urban resources; their influence in industry on the clout of their management-friendly unions, rather than on legislative functions; She is also protected from sanctions thanks to the control of the Bombay Municipality. The sudden collapse in the party's expansion, which was believed to be certain, and the now apparently futile hopes for posts, triggered a wave of disappointment, although they did not affect the local power structures. Those who held offices and controlled resources quickly tried to make the best of them before their luck would come to an end: A building boom provided Bombay with 52 overpasses in a very short time, and those who issued the building permits paid large sums of money to " kickbacks ".

But those who had hoped to participate in this cornucopia at some point saw such machinations as a threat to their own interests. What previously tolerated, what everyone had waited and hoped for, has now become the practice that has been blamed for the political setbacks. "I will never make it now. My one chance is gone," complained a Shakha Pramukh. "We will not have another chance. The voters have left us. We will lose the next election. As a corporator you will be rich. There is corruption everywhere. But now I will not make it anymore," he said. The Shivsena had not lost its voters; its losses were largely due to the coalition agreements of the Congress party - just as the previous election successes of the Shivsena were due to the fragmentation of the opposition. But solidarity broke out. The base grumbled. The Thackeray family, even Bal Thackeray himself, and the party's criminal machinations, which had previously been justified, were now publicly criticized: Raj Thackeray's involvement in the murder of Ramesh Kini, the millions that Chief Minister Joshi had made with real estate (" Imagine, 40 lakhs! "), The dealings and shuffling of the individual MPs. These stories weren't new; what was new was the Sainiks' criticism of it, in which they became a betrayal of the grassroots.

Whenever success has to be conjured up, when election slips are to be forgotten, when dissatisfaction within the party reaches a critical level, and individual governors become independent with their Shakhas, Thackeray uses three proven strategies to get the movement moving again . "Sanyas is going to be my path of the future. I want to keep aloof from all the dirty things going on," (42) he also declared in 1998.Thackeray now appears as his party's conscience, styling himself as a disappointed leader whose vision and mission have been betrayed by selfish or incompetent subordinates. He accuses the party's government officials of losing touch with the grassroots and betraying the true spirit of the movement. (43)

By focusing disillusionment on the incumbent, it is diverted from the organization as a whole. Thackeray calls for civil disobedience to what is otherwise considered "his" government. "What use is in such a government ... If the administration doesn't have the strength ... then Shiv Sainiks should become militant as earlier ..." (44) He re-established the distinction between the ruling party and the movement that often goes down in the general hope of participating in the cornucopia of government control. Sainiks adopt this version of the cause of the misery because such a declaration presents them as actually entitled to the positions of power. When Thackeray takes on the role of primus inter pares, becomes the spokesman for the common sainiks, the common man, then he confirms the primacy of the movement over the government, the primacy of the grassroots over the incumbents, confirms the power of the sainiks within the organization. The party that has fallen victim to corruption through power is again turned into a sympathetic-ethical movement through Thackeray and his Sainiks, who become one voice here.

Sainiks become not only the embodiment of the spirit of the movement, but also the "people" in themselves, to which the rulers have to give an account. Office holders therefore usually hurry to emphasize their primary identity as Sainik, and offer or threaten or voluntarily declare that they will sacrifice their office to appeal to the movement. The former Chief Minister Manohar Joshi has often demonstrated this when he emphasized Thackeray's responsibility for the communal riots in Bombay in the winter of 1992/93, as he last said when the results of the Srikrishna Commission became known: "I am Sainik first and anything else later , "and he is not alone in such statements.

Bal Thackeray then calls for the guilty to be overthrown or orders a cabinet reshuffle. Such cabinet reshuffles are less an attempt to replace incompetent government officials with capable ones. On the contrary, they prevent the party from becoming more professional. And where one might think that this poses a problem for the organization, it is precisely its implicit goal. The de-professionalization makes the party a movement again. It levels the hierarchies below autocratic leadership, replacing expertise with loyalty, and procedure with action. Such upheavals often aim at a change of image. With the appointment of Narayan Rane as Chief Minister in February 1999, for example, the "true spirit of the Shivsena" was reintroduced into the government. Rane was presented as the man of the street, as a streetfighter, with a pragmatic sense of "to get things done". It was a renewed affirmation of the Shivsena myth of bringing the common man to power. It was the recapture of the government by the Shakhas that was symbolized in it, the return of the Sainiks to the ministries, and the primacy of the movement over the party.

At the same time, and more importantly, the upheavals within the party open new spaces for hope and aspiration. When outward expansion seems to have reached its limits and hopes for promotion and post dwindle, such upheavals create new opportunities, but above all new hopes. (45) The nervousness alone that breaks out distracts from dissatisfaction and disillusionment. "You see, I am very busy now ... My Pramukh might be promoted. He was at Matoshree [Bal Thackerays Haus, JE] yesterday. They go there a lot now. There is a lot of upheaval with Joshi's dismissal" , explained an ambitious Sainik. Because the sudden opportunities for advancement appear immense - even if they are not - and at the same time of very short duration, and therefore require quick action in order not to miss the rare opportunity. For such quick action in order to prove oneself, but above all: To gain attention in the eyes of Thackeray, violent agitation is an opportunity.

After the poor results in the Lok Sabha elections in 1998, agitation after agitation followed: Sainiks stormed concert halls in which Pakistani musicians were playing, smashed cinemas showing unpleasant "secular" films, and devastated cricket stadiums in which Pakistan's team played against India and threatened to sabotage the Lahore-Delhi bus service that BJP Prime Minister Vajpayee had just opened. All of these various agitation campaigns were aimed at portraying the Shivsena as the advocate of Hindu rights. Thackeray appeared as "the last staunch Hindu" (46), and once again represented himself as uncompromisingly militant, as a vigilant convict. The party had often overcome internal crises and won new supporters. This strategy reached sad climaxes in the communal riots of Bhivandi in 1984 and those of Bombay in 1992/93, where the party succeeded in mobilizing the masses through the public prayers it organized, the Maha Aartis, and the appeals to the part organ Saamna.

The agitations, some of which came from individual Shakhas, were not motivated by their reference to the rescue of the Hindus from the "Muslim danger". What was more important under Sainiks than ideological positioning on the militant fringes of Hindu nationalism was the revival of their own role within and for the Shivsena. In the agitations the movement structures of the organization gain dominance: equality in action, direct participation of all, informal organization, a single concern. In the agitations, not only the Sainiks and Pramukhs are given the opportunity to prove themselves to be the real core of the Shivsena. Here incumbents become grassroots leaders again. Since the grassroots are the backbone of the Shivsena, control over the grassroots is the best chance of success within the party. "If you cannot get a mob you are a flop." (47) It is not the extraordinary nature of these actions that gives rise to enthusiasm for them. Rather, the agitations also follow a routine that, over the years, is repeated. But it's the routine of the move.

The party on the move

What appears here as a strategy for overcoming internal disillusionment and a lack of commitment is presented as a basic element of the Shivsena organization, with which it is prevented that the movement is exhausted in disappointment. It is disappointment that the Shivsena would actually threaten, for it occupies its positions of power by virtue of its organization as a movement. The pathos of the protest, the vague militancy that replaced the program, and the ideology of the action have legitimized the agitation and violence of the Shivsena, which not only inflicted serious injuries on their victims, but also permanently changed social and political structures locally.

The party was able to translate the local power established through it into electoral votes, and thus also filled government offices. The control of the state authorities has guaranteed the movement the scope for action that makes the specific forms of direct action possible. Charismatic mobilization not only legitimizes actionism, it organizes the action that establishes power. Charismatic mobilization, as it should be understood for the Shivsena, does not get lost in setbacks and electoral losses that the party has had to put up with for two years. The dynamic of engagement and disappointment described by Hirschman (Hirschman 1989) is exposed to the fact that the Shivsena offers not only movement, but also the proceeds of actionism, including participation in local power. The division of labor between the ruling party and the movement, the change of roles between rule and protest, which Bal Thackeray in particular performs with virtuosity, make a dynamic possible that sets the movement in motion again and again. In this way, the Shivsena was able to maintain the movement character of its organization despite and beyond its governmental role, and thus anchored the constitutive methods of occupying and maintaining local power structures.

The environment, namely the state authorities or alternative political forces, set limits to the movement. But there are virtually unbounded boundaries that provide movement both with the reason to move and the space for its success. The rationale for the movement lies in the continuing limitation that must be combated. Your successes are made possible by the minimal resistance that the environment opposes to the actions of the Shivsena. Both: Limits and successes are necessary for the regeneration of movement. Without success and the material income that comes with it, she would be exhausted in disappointment. Without limits, it would lose its justification. So the boundaries of the Sena offer a constant state of potentiality that keeps the movement in motion.

The Shivsena also repeatedly refers to the declared enemy. "We are Hindustanis and therefore, Hindu is the belief of our party. We love Hindustan more than we love ourselves. Therefore Shivsena's fight against anti-national forces shall be ceaseless." (48) The ideology of the essential and existential conflict that the Shivsena indulges in has a special legitimizing potential as it asserts the ultimately unsolvable conflict, the conflict that can only be ended by the annihilation of the enemy.

The various "concerns" for which the Shivsena fights, the causes that trigger clashes, are interchangeable and, when they are "settled", can be replaced by others. The destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya only removed one of the symbols of the alleged existential incompatibility of Hindus and Muslims. Such chosen symbols are potentially infinite in their number, the postulated essential conflict therefore becomes a perpetuum mobile of movement. Especially when the non-negotiability of the conflict is in the interests of those who postulate it. The conflict is important for the Shivsena, because the movement is the Shivsena goal, and in order for the movement to keep moving, it needs the fight. Without the conflict, it would have no meaning. And so in the course of its history it has repeatedly changed the image of the enemy and the subject of conflict.

The thesis here is that it is less the fine picture than the cause that should be fought for, what moves their followers. The enemy image and the postulate of existential conflict have legitimatory functions, because they keep the conflict in the long run. Belief in existential conflict can vary in time and among followers of the movement. According to the empirical findings, the motivation for engagement lies primarily in the action. It is the act that moves. In the action, the categories of friend and foe that legitimize the action are affirmed. The action creates the group, also creates solidarity, community. The action also creates a degree of equality that goes beyond the common ground, because it requires cooperation and trust. But the politics of action is not limited to the symbolic level. Actions not only affirm categories of friend and foe, of good and bad; they not only create community and solidarity. They also create power and income through their violence.


(1) Sharad Pawar and two other Congress politicians separated from Congress (I) in 1999 on the grounds that they did not want to accept a "foreigner" like Sonja Gandhi as a top candidate. In Maharahstra, the NCP brought the old coalitions with the Maharashtric wing of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Republican Party of India (RPI) into the alliance with the Congress (I).

(2) However, she was represented with 15 seats in the central government of the coalition under the leadership of the BJP.

(3) The Week, 19-25.2.1984.

(4) The Hindu, March 25, 1993.

(4a) vigilant: appearing as a self-appointed guardian of law and order (ed.)

(5) Thackeray in Onlooker, May 16-31, 1981; see also Times of India January 23, 1997, p. 2; Katzenstein 1979, 127; Gupta 1981, 139.

(6) On the legitimation of violence in the Shivsena see Eckert 1998.

(7) Saamna December 15, 1992.

(8) Bal Thackeray in a 1990 speech, quoted in Purandare 1999, 341.

(9) Saamna January 14, 1993.

(10) Thackeray in Marmik, February 26, 1986, quoted from Hansen 1996, 162.

(11) Thackeray, November 6. 1989, quoted from Hansen 1996, 163.

(12) Bal Thackeray cited in Purandare 1999, 341.

(13) Saamna, April 29, 1998.

(14) From interviews with Sainiks in Bombay.

(15) Saamna 9/1/1993.

(16) Bal Thackeray cited in Purandare 1999, 56.

(17) Interview with a leader of the Shivsena student wing. Unless otherwise indicated, this and all other quotations come from interviews with Sainiks in Bombay from 1997-1999. The interviewed Sainiks belonged to different ranks of the Shiv Sena and were predominantly native Maharashtrians, but there were also Punjabis and Biharis among them who des Marathi were powerful. The field research was made possible by funding from the VW Foundation.

(18) Interviews with voters of the party 1997-1999.

(19) See Times of India (ToI) March 28, 1999.

(20) After the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme was criticized from many quarters, the developers who were supposed to build the 4 million apartments for 25% of the land freed by the evacuation of the slums also lost their interest. Because this enormous building venture threatened to collapse immense property prices in Bombay, where land is scarce. Then the 25% building land would also be worth far less. Instead, you have concentrated on the development of the textile district.

(21) Bal Thackeray in India Today December 15, 1995.

(22) In addition, the expectations of the welfare of an authoritarian, anti-democratic organization seem to be different from those of the democratic state: in relation to the Shiv Sena, the voters become recipients of "gifts". Bal Thackeray in particular likes to stylize his power as a gift of grace to "the people". Despite the politicization of the electorate, this staging of "durbar", of keeping court, has many forerunners in the political firmament of India (see Rösel 1999, 85f) and is not limited to Bal Thackeray. The Shiv Sena also partially succeeded in its government role in portraying its achievements as gifts and its failures as the result of adverse circumstances. In addition, it has outsourced government duties through the establishment of some "non-governmental organizations" such as the Shiv Udhyog Sena, headed by Bal Thackeray's nephew, which acts as a non-state employment agency, and as a party can benefit from their success and from its failure distract directed state institutions.

(23) Based on a calculation by Gerard Heuzé, 1995.

(24) See, for example, the special supplement to the Times of India on the occasion of Thackeray's 73rd birthday on January 23, 1997, in which statements of this kind by his loyal followers are piling up.

(25) It must be admitted, however, that the Shivsena, although they also play the role of criminal gangs locally, can be distinguished from the great gangs of Bombay in several ways. These are purely economic companies, whereas the Shivsena limits its economic endeavors to the local economy and probably has less part in the international networks of organized crime than other political parties. The local is the Shivsena base and center.

(26) Bal Thackeray in a speech in Mulund, April 16, 1999.

(27) Olga Tellis in ToI, January 23, 1997.

(28) Most of the Sainiks think they have personal access to Thackeray and hold on to the idea of ​​a personal relationship even if it turns out to be a misjudgment.

(29) Website: Profile of Thackeray.

(30) Saamna December 9, 1997.

(31) Bal Thackeray in a speech in Mulund, April 16, 1999.

(32) Navin Rohtagi of Saphire Entertainment, cited in ToI, 3.5. 1998, 6.

(33) Quoted in ToI, 3.5.1998, p.6.

(34) ToI 23.9.1997, p.9.

(35) Reported in The Afternoon, February 24, 1997, p.8.

(36) Quoted in Evening News, October 23, 1986.

(37) On the Shivsena's threats and their effects on local elections, see Eckert 1999.

(38) ToI 3.2.1999.

(39) Asian Age 3.2.1999.

(40) After all, the current Vice-Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujpal of the Congress government in Maharashtra grew up in the Shivsena.

(41) Shivsena "Profiles" website.

(42) Bombay Times, April 2, 1998.

(43) Quoted in Purandare 1999, 426.

(44) Saamna, March 12, 1998.

(45) After such restraints, there are also those who have been deposed and whose prospects within the Shivsena are suddenly cut to the limit. They may try to look for new cartridges within the party or leave the movement. The cabinet reshuffles in 1998 and 1999 also provoked some secessions: Gulabrao Gawande and Suresh Navale left the Shivsena after they were forced to resign. Ganesh Naik gained independence from Navi Mumbai with his powerful Shakha when he was ordered to vacate his ministerial post. As a result of his resignation, the Sena threatened to lose a third of its mandates in the state parliament. ToI, July 26, 1998.

(46) Frontline February 12, 1998, pp. 10-11.

(47) Interview with a Shakha Pramukh in March 1999.

(48) Shivsena website "Aims and objectives".

Source: This text appeared in the original in: Werner Draguhn, Ed .: India 2000. Politics, Economy, Society. Hamburg: Institute for Asian Studies.


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