Bal Thackeray: The tiger of the jungle raj

Bal Thackeray

Bal Thackeray chose a growling tiger as a mascot for the party that he floated on October 31, 1966. Many believe it was apt, as it adequately symbolised the violent streak of the Shiv Sena.

The launch itself was marked with clashes. A large number of youths returning from Thackeray's rally in Shivaji Park announcing the new party, incited by his fiery speech, had targetted South Indians, or "Yandugundus" as the Sena chief then liked to call them. Their establishments in the Dadar area had been attacked and the iconic Dadar railway station vandalised.

The '60s and '70s saw Sainiks embroiled in street battles with members of the Communist Party for supremacy in the mill worker heartland of Parel-Girgaum. One such infamous episode saw the Sena raiding the CPI's office in December 1967 and setting it on fire.

In the late '60s, member of the Sena workers' union Bhartiya Kamgar Sena were accused of playing a part in the murder of Larsen & Toubro company worker outside Kurla station. The union was at the time trying to establish a base among workers.

Soon, Mumbai politics would never be the same again.

* 1969: Thackeray held for first time

The party's first major and organised violent agitation was in 1969, when Bal Thackeray demanded that the Centre intervene to solve the border tangle of Belgaum, which had been included in the Mysore state. Thackeray threatened to protest against both then home minister Yashwantrao Chavan and deputy prime minister Morarji Desai, who visited Mumbai on separate occasions, if this was not done. Subsequent use of force by the Mumbai Police to clear the way for Desai's car angered the Shiv Sainiks, who indulged in large-scale violence.

Thackeray was subsequently arrested for the first time in his political career on February 9, 1969, under the Preventive Detention Act. This too led to large-scale protests by the Sainiks, with Mumbai downing its shutters for five days. In the violence, 59 people lost their lives and property worth Rs 41 lakh was destroyed.

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