The Election Commission on Monday allotted new party names to the rival Shiv Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, but rejected all proposed alternatives of the party symbol submitted by the Shinde camp while giving the mashaal (torch) symbol to the Thackeray group.
According to sources, the EC, which has frozen the party name as well as the Shiv Sena’s bow and arrow symbol as an interim measure, has now decreed that the Uddhav Thackeray faction would be called the ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)‘ while the Shinde faction is to be known as ‘Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena.’
The poll body has asked the Shinde camp to submit three new party symbol alternatives by Tuesday. Shinde camp spokesperson Naresh Mhaske said they would be pondering over fresh alternatives which would be submitted to the EC by Tuesday morning.
Earlier in the day, the Shinde faction had submitted three alternative party names and symbols to the EC, with one name and two of the symbols being the same as the ones submitted by Mr. Thackeray’s group on Sunday.
The Shinde faction’s proposed alternative party names were the Shiv Sena (Balasaheb Thackeray), ‘Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena’ and the ‘Shiv Sena of Balasaheb’. Their three proposed symbols — which the EC rejected — were the trishul (trident), the ‘rising sun’ and ‘the mace’.
However, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena has already proposed Shiv Sena (Balasaheb Thackeray) as its alternative name while suggesting ‘the trident’ and ‘rising sun’ as two of their three symbols. (their third option being the torch which they finally secured)
Claims ‘victory of sorts’
Nonetheless, the Thackeray camp claimed the EC’s decision to be “a victory” of sorts with Uddhav faction leader Bhaskar Jadhav remarking that both Uddhav ji and Balasaheb’s name was part of their new party name, which proved that Mr. Uddhav Thackeray was the true legatee of Bal Thackeray’s ideals.
The Shinde camp too expressed satisfaction that its new party name — Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena — underscored that they had Bal Thackeray’s blessings and that their faction was the one carrying forward the Sena founder’s ideals.
Meanwhile, incarcerated Sena MP and Uddhav loyalist Sanjay Raut, remarked that “a new symbol would bring a new revolution for the party”.
Mr. Raut, who was produced before the court for the extension of his custody, said a new symbol could invigorate the party and that while the party’s name and symbol would be new, the outfit would still be the Shiv Sena of old.
He said the freezing of the party symbol was not a novel occurrence and that such an event had already occurred thrice with the Congress — the Uddhav faction’s ally in the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition.
“It has happened thrice, including during the time of Indira Gandhi and has happened with the Janata Party as well,” Mr. Raut said.
The Thackeray faction had earlier moved the Delhi High Court challenging the Election Commission’s decision to freeze the Shiv Sena party symbol and name.
The plea has alleged that the EC froze the symbol under “false apprehensions” since no candidate from the Shinde faction will be contesting the coming Andheri by-election.
Hitting out at Mr. Thackeray and his faction, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Uddhav faction’s ‘whining’ is “completely political” and that it had become a fashion to target institutions whenever they did not get a favourable decision from them.
“Even now, the EC has not given a final decision on which faction will ultimately have the Sena’s original bow and arrow symbol and it is observed that whenever the Thackeray faction has a weak case, it begins attacking institutions. This is the norm for parties like Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and Congress. For instance, if the Supreme Court gives them a favourable verdict, then it is a good institution else it is biased,” said Mr. Fadnavis.