Mahila Aghadi, Sena’s women’s army that even scared the govt | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Mahila Aghadi, Sena’s women’s army that even scared the govt

The Mahila Aghadi or the women’s wing of the Shiv Sena was a confident and aggressive force formed by Sena chief Bal Thackeray in 1985. News of them protesting against a price hike or a ration issue made the government shudder.

mumbai Updated: Nov 19, 2012 01:10 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

The Mahila Aghadi or the women’s wing of the Shiv Sena was a confident and aggressive force formed by Sena chief Bal Thackeray in 1985. News of them protesting against a price hike or a ration issue made the government shudder.

Often dressed in saffron saris, they would walk shoulder-to-shoulder, banging spoons on plates, asking for justice. They would not budge till they were given an assurance that their demands would be met.

This aggression was often driven only by impulse and the Sena patriarch’s direction. Memories of hundreds of women storming into theatres, tearing down posters of the movie ‘Fire’ based on lesbian relationships in 1998, and the attack on the models who appeared nude in an advertisement are still fresh.

“Should somebody attack you, you should be ready to defend yourself. Don’t worry about the consequences,” Thackeray had said at an aghadi conclave at Goregaon in 2004. On another occasion, he had referred to the mahila aghadi as “the backbone of the Sena”.

His efforts helped get them equal rights. The women’s army had the same designations, followed the same hierarchy and was given the same respect as their male counterparts — in fact, the Sena women’s front was respected more.

He also acknowledged their contribution to the party’s vote-share in his after-speech of the 2012 Mumbai municipal elections, where 50% seats — 122 of 227 — were reserved for women. Today, the party has the highest number of women corporators.