• Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray calls election commission Modi’s ‘slave’ after losing Shiv Sena tag to opponent camp

Uddhav Thackeray (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

The politics western Indian state of Maharashtra has witnessed a fresh escalation after the country’s election commission decided to award the Shiv Sena party’s name and electoral symbol of bow and arrow to the faction led by current chief minister Eknath Shinde.

The decision has seen a backlash from the camp of Uddhav Thackeray, the former chief minister of the state whose firebrand father Bal Thackeray had founded the party in the mid-1960s.

Lashing out at the poll panel on Saturday (18), Thackeray called the “slave” of prime minister Narendra Modi and accused it of doing something unprecedented.

“The Election Commission, PM [Narendra] Modi’s slave, has done something that has never happened before,” the leader said.

He also urged his supporters to be patient and prepare for the next election in the state — the high-stakes contest for BMC, Mumbai’s civic body.

Thackeray saw his Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government crumble last June after Shinde led a revolt that made his government a minority. After a series of dramatic events, Shinde became the chief minister replacing Thackeray with the backing of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

On Saturday, he addressed a large crowd that assembled as a show of strength outside Matoshree, the family home of the Thackerays. The 62-year-old stood out of his car’s sunroof, evoking the image of his father who famously addressed followers from the roof of his car in the early days of the party.

The senior Thackeray passed away in 2012.

Thackeray said the party’s symbol has been “stolen” and the “thief” needs to be taught a lesson, taking an indirect dig at Shinde.

On Friday (17), the election commission handed over the party’s identity to Shinde, leaving the Thackeray faction fuming. The latter, which had urged the commission to wait till the Supreme Court of India gave its verdict on the matter, said it would move the top court which is hearing the tussle between the two camps fighting for Bal Thackeray’s legacy.

In a 78-page order on the protracted battle for control of the party, the commission said Shinde was backed by state legislators with 76 per cent of the party’s winning votes in the 2019 assembly polls held in Maharashtra.

The body also said the Uddhav Thackeray faction could keep the name ‘Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray’ and the ‘flaming torch’ symbol that was assigned last year.

Shinde, on the other hand, welcomed the poll commission’s move as a “victory for democracy” and, addressing Thackeray’s characterisation of him as a “traitor”, said his rival needed to “introspect”.

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