In a major setback to the Uddhav Thackery faction of Shiv Sena, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday allotted the party name “Shiv Sena” and the symbol “Bow and Arrow” to the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
While the Shinde faction welcomed the decision of being recognized as the real Shiv Sena, the Uddhav Thackeray faction said they will move the Supreme Court. The Uddhav Thackeray faction accused the Election Commission of haste and said the decision shows “it works as BJP agent”.
The Commission observed in its order that the current constitution of the Shiv Sena party is undemocratic and has been “mutilated to undemocratically appoint people from a coterie as office bearers without any election at all”. It said such party structures fail to inspire confidence.
The poll panel advised all political parties to reflect democratic ethos and principles of inner party democracy and regularly disclose on their respective websites aspects of their inner party functioning, such as organisational details, holding of elections, the copy of Constitution and list of office bearers.
“The constitution of political parties ought to provide for free, fair and transparent elections to the posts of office bearers and a further free and fair procedure for the resolution of internal disputes. These procedures ought to be difficult to amend and should be amendable only after ensuring larger support of the organisational members for the same,” the ECI said.
Last month, both the Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and former CM Uddhav Thackeray-led factions of the Shiv Sena submitted their written statements in support of their claims over the party name and symbol to the Election Commission.
The ECI had frozen the bow and arrow symbol of the Shiv Sena and had allotted the ‘Two Swords and Shield symbol’ to the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena and the ‘flaming torch’ (mashaal) election symbol was allotted to the Uddhav Thackeray faction for the bypoll in Andheri East assembly constituency in November last year.
Before the Andheri East bypoll, the poll panel named Uddhav faction as Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and Shinde faction as Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena. The name was to prevail till the final decision in the matter.
Hitting out at the BJP following the EC decision, former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeary said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face does not attract people in Maharashtra and the ruling alliance wants to earn political dividend in the name of Balasaheb Thackeray.
Calling the poll panel’s decision as “murder of democracy”, Uddhav Thackeray said he will approach the Supreme Court against the decision.
“They should first understand Balasaheb. They have come to know that ‘Modi’s face does not attract people in Maharashtra anymore so they have to put Balasaheb’s mask on their face for their own benefit. I had said that ECI should not give a decision before the SC verdict. If the party’s existence is decided based on the number of MLAs and MPs, any capitalist can purchase MLA, MP and become CM,” Uddhav Thackeray said at a press conference here.
He said they have the support of people and will go to them.
“We will surely go to the Supreme Court against this EC order. We are sure that the SC will set aside this order,” Thackeray said.
Shiv Sena was formed by Uddhav Thackeray’s father Balasaheb Thackeray.
Uddhav Thackeray faction spokesperson Anand Dubey said “the order is what we had suspected”.
“We had been saying that we do not trust the EC. When the matter is sub-judice before Supreme Court and no final decision has been taken, this haste by EC shows it works as a BJP agent under Central Government,” he said.
Following EC decision, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on updated his display picture on Twitter and put up Shiv Sena’s ‘bow and arrow’ symbol as the picture.
He also visited Balasaheb Thackeray memorial in Mumbai.
“It is the victory of the ideologies of Balasaheb and Anand Dighe, of our workers, MPs, MLAs, public representatives and lakhs of Shiv Sainiks. It is victory of democracy. This country runs on the Constitution drafted by Babasaheb Ambedkar. We formed our government on the basis of that Constitution. The EC order that came today is on the basis of merit. I express my gratitude to the Election Commission,” Shinde told reporters.
He also took a dig at remarks of Uddhav Thackeray.
“Modi ji’s name is celebrated not only in the country but across the world. He is the number one (political leader) in a recent global survey. Why are you jealous? Accept the truth. Words like these won’t bring down PM Modi’s popularity,” he said.
“They (Uddhav Thackeray faction) had mortgaged the ‘bow and arrow’ in 2019. We redeemed the ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray and the ‘bow and arrow’. I thank the Election Commission for this decision,” he added.
He also reacted to the reported ‘thieves’ jibe of Uddhav Thackeray.
“50 MLAs, 13 MPs, hundreds of public representatives and lakhs of workers are thieves. What are you? Do self-introspection as to why has this day come? You sold out the ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray in 2019,” he said.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis congratulated Shinde on retaining the party symbol and said his faction is the true “Shiv Sena” that follows the principles of Balasaheb Thackeray.
“The Shiv Sena that walks on ideologies of Balasaheb Thackeray – Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena has become the original Shiv Sena. My greetings to him. We were confident from day one because if you look at EC’s earlier orders on different parties, they were similar decisions,” Fadnavis said.
Shiv Sena had seen a split last year forcing Uddhav Thackeray to resign as Chief Minister of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Shinde later joined hands with BJP to form a government in the state.
Maharashtra will face two assembly bypolls later this month. Both the constituencies – Kasba Peth, Chinchwad – are in Pune district.