The Charisma of Direct Action - Power, Politics, and the Shiv Sena

The Charisma of Direct Action - Power, Politics, and the Shiv Sena

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Author: Julia M Eckert
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 307
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0 19 566044 7


How do movements that are explicitly anti-pluralist in nature succeed in democratic societies? What qualities in their ideology and practice appeal to ordinary citizens? How do such movements establish themselves as significant political forces, and fight victorious electoral campaigns within a democratic framework- a framework that they themselves reject. This work explores these questions.

This book aims to answer these questions through an in-depth analysis of the Shiv Sena- a party that has dominated the political scene in Maharashtra (and India) these past several years. The Shiv Sena has been traditionally characterized by its culture of direct action, militant images, and its charismatic and autocratic leader, Bal Thackeray.

While examining the processes leading to the establishment of the Shiv Sena, Julia Eckert offers a refreshingly original perspective on the internal dynamics of the party, and other like-minded movements. She details its local mode of operation and its strategies of mobilization within a democratic set up. She studies the movement’s need for creating opportunities for action, the role of militant enemy images, and the integration of diverse interests and motivation in the politics of struggle. In addition, the book focuses on the spaces created for such movements within their environment by strategies of instrumentalisation and avoidance while examining the shifts in power relations created thereby.

Further, the book discusses the party’s posture of protest, its culture of militancy and its ideology of action. It examines the movement’s dilemma between norm-breaking and norm-setting, and studies the Shiv Sena’s role within the Hindu-nationalist agenda of which it has become one of the most prominent propagators.

This volume is essential for students of politics, sociology, history, as well as journalists, policy-makers and all those interested din social and political movements in general and those within India in particular.



The Shakha and its Neighbourhood

Making Popular Culture

Charism and its Underbelly:
Principle and Practice of the Sena’s Authoritarian Ideal

Militant Enmity

Violence as Method and Ideology

Shifting Limits

Vada Pav and Zhunka Bhakar:
The Shiv Sena’s Electoral Expansion and
the Economic Informalization of Mumbai

Dismantling the Congress System

Shivshahi in Limbo

Violent Action as Participation




Appendix I: Election Results

Appendix II: The Official Structure of the Shiv Sena