Election Commission allots new names to both Shiv Sena factions
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday allotted new names to both factions of the Shiv Sena—helmed by Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray—before Mumbai's East Andheri Assembly seat bye-election. It is an interim measure until the ECI decides on the "real" Shiv Sena. Earlier, the ECI froze the party's original name and "bow and arrow" symbol.
Why does this story matter?
- A political storm shook former Maharashtra Chief Minister Thackeray's government in June this year after a rebellion by his most loyal commander, Eknath Shinde.
- The latter took over 40 MLAs and allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a new government.
- Both factions now stake claim to being called the "real" Sena and the true inheritor of party founder Bal Thackeray's legacy.
ECI order allotting new name, symbol to Thackeray faction
Election Commission of India allots 'flaming torch' ('mashaal') as the election symbol to Uddhav Thackeray's faction of Shiv Sena; faction will now be called 'Shivsena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)' pic.twitter.com/F9v8nzV5zf— Lok Poll (@LokPoll) October 10, 2022
'Mashaal' new symbol of Uddhav Thackeray camp
The Uddhav Thackeray camp will be called "Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)" while the ECI also allotted it a new symbol: mashaal (flaming torch). The Shinde camp will be called "Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (Balasaheb's Shiv Sena)". But it could not be allotted a new symbol as the ECI rejected its proposed options. The poll body asked Shinde to submit a new list of symbols.
ECI stern against religious symbols
The Shinde faction had proposed the gada (mace) trishul (trident), and rising sun symbol options, while Thackeray's team also submitted trishul and gada—alluding to Hindu mythology. However, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar—said to be tough on the use of religious symbols in elections—rejected these proposals by both factions. Meanwhile, Bhaskar Jadhav of the Thackeray faction said the group was satisfied with their new name.
Shiv Sena has an old association with the 'mashaal'
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) has an old relation with the Flaming Torch or Mashaal symbol.— Mrityunjay Bose (@MBTheGuide) October 11, 2022
In 1985, Chhagan Bhujbal, then with #ShivSena, contested on Mashaal symbol from Mazgaon in #Mumbai and won.
Bhujbal later joined #Congress and is now with the #NCP@DeccanHerald pic.twitter.com/acXTWwqodm
Debate on real Shiv Sena almost settled: Shinde
However, Shinde claimed the ECI's name choice for their faction (Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena) pretty much settled the debate on the real inheritors of Bal Thackeray's thoughts and legacy. Separately, Thackeray's team moved the Delhi High Court on Monday to overturn an ECI order freezing Shiv Sena's name and symbol last week. The group challenged the decision saying that their version wasn't taken into account.
'We are the inheritors of Balasaheb's thoughts,' tweets Shinde
Thackeray questioned ECI's decision to freeze Sena name, symbol
It was speculated earlier that both Sena factions would contest the Andheri East bye-election to fill the Assembly vacancy. However, the Shinde faction is reportedly not in the bypoll race as it is going to back the BJP instead. Thackeray's team has questioned the ECI's rationale behind freezing the party symbol and name if the other Sena faction wasn't even contesting the bypoll.