Setback for Thackeray; Shiv Sena symbol to stay with Shinde
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Election Commission of India's (ECI) decision to award the Shiv Sena name and "bow and arrow" symbol to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led faction. Hearing a petition by Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT), Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said, "They (Shinde camp) have succeeded before the ECI. We cannot stay the order now."
Why does this story matter?
- After months of tussling between the Thackeray and Shinde camps, each claiming to be the "real" Shiv Sena, the ECI allotted the party's name and symbol to the Shinde-led faction last week. It prompted the Thackeray camp to challenge it in SC.
- The factions emerged after Shinde joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to unseat the Thackeray government in June 2022.
Thackeray camp to retain 'flaming torch' sign: SC
During the hearing, the three-judge bench, headed by DY Chandrachud reiterated the ECI's order to allow Thackeray's Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) to have the "flaming torch" sign while the Shide camp would keep the "bow and arrow" symbol. The Election Commission of India had approved the interim arrangement in light of the Maharashtra assembly by-elections on February 26.
Thackeray camp seeks status quo; protection in the matter
Thackeray sought the status quo till the matter was decided by the court. The counsel for Thackeray, Kabil Sibal, told the bench that they want protection by way of the court order. "We want protection. We don't want our properties to be taken over and bank accounts to be taken over," he argued.
Constitution Bench hearing other matters related to Shiv Sena
CJI had earlier declined Sibal's request to hear the petition on Tuesday, saying that he wanted to read the files before the hearing. He agreed to list the matter at 3:30 pm on Wednesday after the Constitution Bench hearing. Notably, the bench is also presiding over other ongoing cases linked to the Shiv Sena rift.
Thackeray accused ECI of favoring Shinde camp
According to Thackeray's plea, the ECI failed to fulfill its duty as a neutral arbitrator of disputes, and its actions jeopardized the poll body's constitutional status. The ECI previously ruled in Shinde's favor, stating that he received 76% of the winning votes in the 2019 Assembly elections—40 of 55 MLAs—and 13 of 18 Lok Sabha MPs.
New names, symbols allotted to both factions last year
The ECI froze the party's bow and arrow symbol last year despite the Shinde camp backing the BJP and not contesting the by-poll. Notably, both factions were allotted new names and symbols before Mumbai's East Andheri by-election in October. Meanwhile, Thackeray camp leader Sanjay Raut recently accused the ruling BJP of "buying" the Sena's name and symbol from the ECI for Rs. 2,000 crore.
ECI making decisions based on what ruling government wants: Pawar
Commenting on the ECI's order soon after the SC's ruling, the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said that the constitutional body and other organizations are making decisions based on what the ruling BJP government wants. "We've never seen such a decision by ECI. Balasaheb Thackeray in his last days said that Shiv Sena's responsibility would be given to Uddhav Thackeray," Pawar said.