In the fight over who gets the Shiv Sena (party name, symbol and all), former Maharashtra Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray told the Electoral Commission today that the faction led by Eknath Shinde cannot claim the bow symbol and the arrow as he and other MLAs in his field had “voluntarily resigned from the party”.
The commission had asked Team Thackeray to respond to Eknath Shinde’s claim on the symbol for the upcoming assembly secondary vote in the Andheri East segment, the first such competition since the Thackeray government was ousted in June.
Eknath Shinde, who became Chief Minister after the BJP-backed Sena mutiny, has the majority of the party’s lawmakers on his side in the assembly and Parliament. His faction has even managed to get its members recognized as the leaders of Shiv Sena.
But Uddhav Thackeray, who remains technically the party’s boss, has told the panel that the Shinde camp lawmakers should not be counted because a disqualification petition against them is before the Supreme Court.
He is now collecting affidavits of support from party members (target is over 5 lakh) to hold on to the party that his father, Bal Thackeray, founded more than 50 years ago. Shinde also claims Bal Thackeray’s “true Hindutva legacy”.
There is a court battle over whether the anti-defection law can topple Mr. Shinde and his MLAs. At face value, they have the two-thirds strength of party lawmakers to avoid disqualification.
But the Electoral Commission also analyzes the support of the party units, hence the affidavits.
The Shinde faction’s claim to the symbol was seen primarily as an attempt to deny it to the Thackeray group, and thus keep it in abeyance until a final decision on the “real” Seine is made.
His immediate target is the November 3 secondary poll, for which Team Thackeray fielded Rutuja Latke, widow of Ramesh Latke, whose death made the election necessary.
The Shinde team endorses BJP ally candidate Murji Patel, a municipal corporation.
The Congress and the NCP decided to support the candidate of the Thackeray faction, their partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi that emerged after Thackeray broke with the BJP “over leadership issues” after the 2018 elections.
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