Mumbai: In a recent development, the Election Commission of India has allotted the ‘Bow and Arrow’ symbol to Eknath Shinde’s camp, thereby paving the way for it to become the “real Shiv Sena”. This has come as a major setback for the Uddhav Thackeray faction, which will continue to be called the ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)’ with the ‘Flaming Torch’ symbol.
The decision was made eight months after Shinde’s faction toppled Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government in June 2022. The ECI’s order also froze the party name ‘Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena’ and the symbol of ‘Two Swords and Shield’ that was allotted to the Shinde faction in October 2022.
The order also directed the petitioner, Shinde and his team, to amend the 2018 Constitution of the party in line with Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and extant guidelines issued by the commission on registration of political parties, inter alia, conforming to internal democracy.
What About Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena ?
The Thackeray faction has been allowed to retain the ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)’ and ‘Flaming Torch’ symbols until the ongoing by-polls for Chinchwad and Kasba Peth of the Maharashtra legislative assembly are completed.
The ECI order read, “The very basis of the recognition of a political party is in terms of percentage of votes it polled in elections to the legislative assembly and/or to the House of People and the number of elected members as per the provisions of Para 6A, 6B, and 6C of the Symbols Order.” In the case of the Sena versus Sena battle, the commission had to rely on the test of the majority in the legislative wing for adjudicating the present dispute.
The test of the majority was clearly in favor of Shinde. The 40 MLAs supporting him garnered 36,57,327 votes out of a total of 47,82,440, which is 76% of the votes polled in favor of 55 winning MLAs in the 2019 assembly elections. In contrast, the 15 MLAs supporting Thackeray managed to get only 11,25,113 votes, i.e., 23.5% of votes polled in favor of winning 55 MLAs.
Similarly, the 13 MPs supporting Shinde garnered 74,88,634 votes out of a total of 1,02,45,143 – 73% of votes polled in favor of 18 MPs in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This contrasts with 27,56,509 votes garnered by 5 MPs supporting Thackeray, making it 27% of the votes polled in favor of 18 MPs.
The ECI’s order is a significant milestone in the ongoing Sena versus Sena battle, and it will be interesting to see how the Shinde faction utilizes its newfound position to its advantage.