By: Shubham Ghosh
Uddhav Thackeray, former chief minister of the western Indian state of Maharashtra, on Friday (17) received a massive blow as the claim made on the name and electoral symbol of the actual Shiv Sena by his opponent Eknath Shinde, also his successor, was cleared by the Election Commission of India.
In a 78-page order on the protracted battle for control of the organisation which was founded by Uddhav’s father Bal Thackeray, one of Maharashtra’s towering leaders, in 1966, the electoral body said Shinde was supported by legislators with 76 per cent of the Sena’s winning votes in the last assembly elections held in Maharashtra in 2019.
Shinde became the chief minister in June last year with the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following a revolt in the Sena which left Uddhav’s former Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government in a minority.
The commission allowed the Sena faction led by Uddhav to keep the poll symbol of “flaming torch” assigned last year.
Shinde and his supporters welcomed the commission’s verdict and firecrackers were burst across state capital Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.
“I thank the Election Commission. The majority counts in democracy. This is the victory of Balasaheb [Thackeray]’s legacy. Ours is the true Shiv Sena,” Shinde was quoted as saying by reports.
NDTV cited sources saying that the chief minister’s next move will be to call party polls that are expected to anoint him as the head.
Uddhav, on the other hand, slammed the commission calling its decision “murder of democracy” and “theft” and lashed out at Shinde, his once colleague in the state government, calling him a “traitor”.
Speaking at a news conference, he said he had urged the commission to wait for the Supreme Court of India’s decision and that “in future, anyone can buy MLAs or MPs and become chief minister or prime minister”.
“We will fight, we will not lose hope. The truth will prevail one day,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court was the “last hope”.
Sanjay Raut, a parliamentarian from Uddhav’s team, said, “Such a decision was expected. We don’t have faith in the Election Commission.”
Responding to the attack, Shinde said it was “wrong” of Uddhav to call the dissidents “thieves” and added that the former chief minister needed to “introspect”.
The commission froze the bow-and-arrow symbol of the Sena after the party got split between the two factions last year and allotted the ‘two swords and shield’ symbol to the Shinde faction and the ‘flaming torch’ symbol to the Thackeray camp.