After hours of hectic deliberation, the Election Commission of India (ECI) allotted new party names to the rival Shiv Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and 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 ECI, 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 ‘Shivsena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) while the Shinde faction is to be known as ‘Balasaheb’s Shivsena.’
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 upon fresh alternatives which will be submitted to the ECI by Tuesday morning.
Earlier in the day, the Eknath Shinde faction had submitted three alternative party names and symbols to the ECI, with one name and two of the symbols being the same as the ones being submitted by Mr. Thackeray’s group on Sunday.
The Shinde faction’s proposed alternative party names were the Shivsena (Balasaheb Thackeray), ‘Balasaheb’s Shivsena’ and the ‘Shivsena of Balasaheb’. Their three proposed symbols – which the ECI rejected – were the trishul (trident), the ‘rising sun’ and ‘the mace’.
However, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena has already proposed Shivsena (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)
Nonetheless, the Thackeray camp claimed the ECI’s decision to be “a victory” of sorts with Uddhav faction leader Bhaskar Jadhav remarking that both Uddhavji and Balasaheb’s name was part of their new party name, which proved that Uddhav Thackeray was the true legatee of Bal Thackeray’s ideals.
The Shinde camp, too, expressed satisfaction that their new party name – Balasaheb’s Shivsena – 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, meanwhile, 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 that 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 further said that the freezing of the party symbol was not a novel occurrence and that such an event had already occurred thrice with 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 today challenging Election Commission’s decision to freeze the Shiv Sena party symbol and name.
The plea has alleged that the ECI froze the symbol under “false apprehensions” since no candidate from the Shinde faction will be contesting the upcoming Andheri by-election.
Hitting out at Mr. Thackeray and his faction, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the Uddhav faction’s ‘whining’ is “completely political” and that it had become a fashion to target institutions whenever they did get a favourable decision from them.
“Even now, the ECI has not given a final decision on which faction will ultimately have the Sena’s original bow and arrow symbol…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.