Following the Election Commission of India's decision on Friday, recognizing the Eknath Shinde faction as the real Shiv Sena giving it the 'bow and arrow' symbol, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday attacked the Election Commission, calling the body a slave of PM Narendra Modi for conferring the Sena party name and poll symbol to his rival faction.
"The Election Commission, PM (Narendra) Modi's slave, has done something that has never happened before," he said addressing a large crowd gathered extending their support, outside the Thackeray family home, Matoshree. Urging them to be patient, Thackeray asked his loyals to buck up for the upcoming BMC elections, a high-stakes contest in Mumbai, as per an NDTV report.
Standing out on his car's sunroof, he induced the image of father Bal Thackeray, whose unique style of addressing his followers from the car's sunroof was a buzz in the party's early days. Taking a jibe at the current Maharashtra CM, Thackeray remarked, "The party's symbol has been stolen and the thief needs to be taught a lesson."
The ECI' decision, to hand over the party's identity, name, and symbol, founded by Uddhav's father, Babasaheb Thackeray in 1966, to Shinde following his coup from the party in June last year, has caused the Thackerays a major setback. It allowed the former CM, Uddhav Thackeray's faction keep the 'flaming torch' poll symbol allotted by the commission last year.
On February 17, team Thackeray MP Sanjay Raut expressed that the faction had no faith in the Election Commission. Thackeray's faction has said that they will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. The ongoing war between the two sides is being heard by the apex Court.
The crisis for the Thackery-led government began in June last year when about 50 MLAs from the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance of the Sena, Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party departed the coalition government. Following this, Shinde took off with nearly 40 Sena MLAs along with 10 others to BJP's hub, Gujarat via road. The rebelling MLAs from here flew to BJP-ruled Assam on a chartered flight.
Later in June 2022, with BJP's support, Shnde returned with the couping MLAs to Mumbai from Assam with a brief break in-between in Goa, and formed the government.
Welcoming the ECI's move, Eknath Shinde responded to the decision as a "victory for democracy" and protested Thackeray's characterization of him as a "traitor", saying that his rival needed to "introspect". "I thank the Election Commission. The majority counts in democracy. This is the victory of (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb (Thackeray's) legacy. Ours is the true Shiv Sena," he said.