It was a cool rainy day on June 19, 1966, that a frail, young political cartoonist with fiery eyes assembled a loose ‘Army of Shivaji’ and launched the Shiv Sena for espousing the case and cause of ‘sons of the soil’.
After many ups and down, mostly the latter, the saffron, ultra-right party is now celebrating the golden jubilee of its founding.
A mega-bash is planned on Sunday to mark the milestone, but doubts linger among its loyal soldiers, outside supporters, its allies and opponents and some others who barely tolerate it.
Highlights of the Shiv Sena’s 50-year-long journey in politics:
June 19: Shiv Sena is born for ‘Marathi manoos’
October: First rally at Shivaji Park, which has became an annual feature till date
October: First agitation against South Indian ‘lungiwalas’, who were accused of grabbing jobs meant for Marathis
* 1968: Steps into neighbouring Thane Municipal Corporation by bagging 42 seats in alliance with Praja Socialist Party
* 1969: Mumbai bandh, allegedly incited violence for three days on the Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary dispute, which is unresolved till date
* 1972: Bags its first seat in Maharashtra assembly
* 1973: Bags BMC Mayor’s post
* 1975: Party President Bal Thackeray supports then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Emergency
* 1984: Blamed for the communal cauldron that engulfs Bhiwandi in Thane district
* 1985: Bags the BMC for the first time on its own strength, harping on ‘sons of the soil’ issue
* 1986: Formally becomes a ‘Hindutva’ party, targets Muslims, spreads to rest of Maharashtra
* 1989: Becomes an ally of Bharatiya Janata Party, launches Marathi ‘Saamana’
* 1990: Shiv Sena bags 52 seats, BJP gets 42; becomes the main Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly
* 1991: Big jolt as Bal Thackeray’s trusted aide Chhagan Bhujbal quits party, joins Congress
* 1992: Shiv Sena claims its activists razed Ayodhya’s Babri Mosque; later, Bal Thackeray makes famous anti-Muslim comment: “Kick’em out” to Time magazine.
* Dec 1992-Jan 1993: Shiv Sena accused of major role in the Mumbai communal carnage
* March 1993: Serial bomb blasts rock Mumbai; Shiv Sena talks of ‘Hindu Dons’ versus ‘Muslim Dons.’
* 1995: Shiv Sena creates history, bags 73 seats to form Maharashtra’s first non-Congress government with BJP’s 65 seats; Manohar Joshi becomes CM.
* 1996: Became a key ally of BJP in the first NDA government headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Bal Thackeray grieves the loss of his wife Meena and son Bindumadhav.
Severely indicted by the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission for its role in the 1992-1993 communal riots
Joins Vajpayee’s government
February: Abruptly ejects the Brahmin, Manohar Joshi, and makes the Maratha, Narayan Rane, the Maharashtra chief minister, ostensibly a ‘political correction’
October: Loses power in Maharashtra to a divided Congress, which forms government with Sharad Pawar’s six-month old Nationalist Congress Party
* 2003: Uddhav Thackeray appointed Executive President
* 2004: SS-BJP lose assembly elections
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Nirupam, executive editor of ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’ and firebrand orator, quits
Rane quits owing to differences with Uddhav Thackeray.
* 2006: Senior Thackeray’s nephew and Uddhav’s cousin, Raj Thackeray, leaves the party to form the independent Maharashtra Navnirman Sena
* 2009: With just 45 seats, Shiv Sena loses Leader of Opposition post to BJP, which got 46 seats in the assembly elections
* 2010: Aditya Uddhav Thackeray enters politics, campaigns successfully against Rohinton Mistry’s book
* November 17, 2012: Founder-patriarch, ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray dies at 86. Accorded state honours at the city’s first public funeral in a century at Shivaji Park, and gets a rare tribute in Parliament though he was never elected to either house
Shiv Sena bags 18 Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra.
September: Shiv Sena’s 25-year old alliance with BJP splits on eve of October assembly elections
Shiv Sena bags 61 seats, BJP gets 122 and Devendra Fadnavis becomes the chief minister
The adamant Shiv Sena prefers to sit in opposition; in December, a month after being in the opposition, the party joins the government
* June 19, 2016: Shiv Sena celebrates its golden jubilee