The Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena will be known as Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and its new party symbol will be the mashaal (flaming torch), the Election Commission said today in an interim order until it is decided who is the “real Shiv Sena”.
The decision comes ahead of November 3 by-election in the Andheri East Assembly seat. If the two factions decide to contest they will have to use the new symbols.
The rival faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will be called Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena).
The Shinde faction is yet to be allotted a party symbol. The Election Commission has asked the party to provide three fresh options by 10am tomorrow. Earlier, the gada (blunt mace) and the trishul (trident), proposed by both the factions, were rejected by the poll body as they were religious symbols. Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar is said to have taken a tough stand against allocation of symbols with religious connotations to political parties.
The Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena had given a list of three names and symbols. ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thackeray’ was the first choice, ‘Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray’ was the second pick, while ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb Prabodhankar Thackeray’ was the third, sources in the Election Commission said.
The Thackeray group expressed satisfaction over the Election Commission allotting ‘Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray as the name for the faction. “We are happy that the three names that matter to us most – Uddhav ji, Balasaheb and Thackeray – have been retained in the new name,” Thackeray loyalist and former Maharashtra minister Bhaskar Jadhav said.
The Shinde camp too expressed happiness over their new party name. Mr Shinde tweeted: “Finally the victory of the strong Hindutva views of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray. We are the inheritors of Balasaheb’s thoughts…”
Mr Thackeray had challenged the Election Commission’s freeze on the Shiv Sena symbol and name in the middle of a tussle between rival factions over which is the “real” Shiv Sena.
The former Maharashtra Chief Minister had approached the Delhi High Court against Saturday’s order, alleging that the party’s name and symbol were frozen without a hearing, which he said went “against principles of natural justice”.
In its writ petition to Delhi High Court against Election Commision, Mr Thackeray said: “Without affording an opportunity to be heard, despite an application of the Petitioner (Uddhav Thackeray) requesting oral hearing, Election Commision of India displayed undue haste and passed the order freezing the symbol of ‘Bow and Arrow’ of the political party Shiv Sena led by the Petitioner, a symbol that is intrinsically identified with it, having been used by it since the inception of the party in 1966.”
His petition further said: “The freezing of the symbol by ECI is actuated by malice in law. No candidate from the group led by Eknath Shinde is contesting the said election to 166 Andheri East Assembly Constituency. Therefore, the situation apprehended by ECI requiring freezing of the Symbol does not arise at all.”
The ECI had asked team Thackeray and the rival Shinde faction to choose new names and symbols for the November 3 byelection in Mumbai’s Andheri East constituency.
The Sena versus Sena saga started in June when Mr Shinde led 48 MLAs in a BJP-backed coup against his boss Mr Thackeray, bringing down his coalition government. Mr Shinde then formed a new government with the BJP. Since then, both factions have laid claim to the party’s name. Mr Shinde, who has the support of a majority of party MLAs and MPs, told the Election Commission he had a stronger claim to the party founded by Mr Thackeray’s father Bal Thackeray.