Who Is Real Shiv Sena? EC Says None; Asks Thackeray And Shinde To Select New Names And Symbols

In an interim decision on Saturday, the EC barred both the parties from using either the name and symbol of Shiv Sena. EC took the decision keeping an eye at the approaching bypolls on November 3.

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray

Drawing an end to the controversy, the Election Commission on Saturday barred both the Shiv Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde from using the party name and its election symbol in the upcoming Andheri East assembly bypoll.

In their interim order the EC has asked both the factions to suggest three different names and as many symbol choices from the free available symbols by Monday for their respective groups. On the basis of that the EC would assign the new name and the symbol to the competing factions.

The interim order of the EC came following Shinde faction's latest request on October 4 seeking it be allocated the symbol as the Andheri East assembly bypoll is approaching. The bypoll is scheduled for November 3.

The Commission is duty bound to ensure that all electoral steps of the bye election are free of any confusion and contradiction and thus its next step are necessarily agnostic to the possibility of either of the faction participating in the poll,” the interim order said.

Disallowing both the parties to take claim over the original symbol of Shiv Sena, the order added, “Neither of the two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol 'Bow & Arrow' reserved for 'Shivsena’.”

What led to the Decision of the EC?

When Shinde walked out of Thackeray blaming him of compromising the authentic ideology of Sena by hobnobbing with Congress and NCP in June, both of the factions wanted to be authenticated as the ‘real Shiv Sena’.

The Election Commission upon receiving the claims asked the both the groups to submit their claims by August 8. However, the Thackeray faction knocked the doors of the SC to buy time in reference to the constitutional crisis emerged after Shinde left the Government with 40 MLAs. According to the claims of Thackeray faction as the qualification of the MLAs were at stake due to their non-merger with any party as per the tenth schedule, the question of authenticity comes later.

On August 4, while hearing the case the then CJI N V Ramana referred it to a constitutional bench and asked the EC to refrain from taking any decision until the top court clarifies on the constitutional issue.

However, on September 27, the constitutional bench of SC rejected the plea of Thackeray faction and asked the EC to procced with the examination of the authenticity claims. Keeping aside the claims of Thackeray that Shinde himself stands disqualified as he left the party by joining anti party activities, the court said it is a different matter to discuss and can’t be considered as a ground to not proceed with ‘claims for symbol’ case.

On October 4, as Shinde asked the EC to speed up its process in the backdrop of the approaching bypolls, rival factions were called to submit their responses. As per the precedence, the contesting parties submit their strength of MLAs, MPs and leaders holding important position in the party to claim the authentic status.

Thackeray faction on Saturday though asked for four weeks’ time to understand the claims and documentations of the Shinde group, the EC came out with its decision.

Reactions from Thackeray and Shinde Camps

Criticising harshly the decision of the EC to not let any of the factions use the symbol of real Shiv Sena, Thackeray faction said it is ‘injustice’. Leader of the opposition in Maharashtra legislative council and a Thackeray loyalist Ambadas Danve said that the EC should have taken a holistic decision instead of passing and interim order keeping an eye on the polls.

Thackeray scion Aditya however fumed in Twitter and said, “Khokewale" traitors committed this shameless and vile act of freezing the name Shiv Sena and symbol.” Adding that the people of Maharashtra is not going to accept it, he wrote in Marathi, “We will fight and win. We are on the side of the truth. Satyamev Jayate!”

Since their departure Aditya and other leaders of Thackeray factions have been accusing Shinde of taking ‘Khokha’ or box of money for trading his loyalty.

However, the Shinde faction has welcomed the decision whole heartedly. Prataprao Jadhav, an MP from the Shinde camp said that the EC has taken the right decision. Uddhav Thackeray discarded the ideology of Sena founder Bal Thackeray and formed an alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, he added.

The scheduled bypoll in Andheri East will be the first electoral contest since the split in the party. Notably, Shinde faction is not fighting the sit as it has left BJP to have a head on with the Thackeray faction. The last date for filing the nomination is on October 14. The political analysts are of the opinion that the outcome of this election will help the parties to further claim their authenticity.