NEW DELHI: Shiv Sena – apolitical party founded by his father Balasaheb Thackeray in 1966 in Maharashtra and which Uddhav Thackeray himself led since 2012 – is no longer his party.
In a development that could have farreaching repercussions on Maharashtra politics, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has declared that it is the breakaway faction, led by EknathShinde, which is the real Shiv Sena and allotted it the popular bowand-arrow election symbol of the party.
The verdict is a major victory for the breakaway rebel group, which had snatched power in alliance with the BJP last June by bringing down the Thackeray-led government. After winning the state elections in 2019, Thackeray had snapped ties with the BJP accusing it of “dumping its allies” and had joined hands with the Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
Shiv Sena has suffered breaks more than once over its lifetime, including one inflicted by Thackeray’s cousin Raj in 2005, but its hold over the cadre or the official name or symbol was never in danger. Ever since it became clear mid last year that Shinde had the support of up to 40 MLAs, Thackeray’s ownership of the official party name and symbol came under threat.
The Shinde group and the BJP welcomed the decision, calling it a victory of the Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology. The ECI cited precedents, previous cases, the number of elected representatives in each faction, and some contested points in the Shiv Sena party’s constitution.
Deputy Chief Minister DevendraFadnavis said the decision established that Shinde was the real leader of the Shiv Sena. “I thank the Election Commission,” said Shinde. “Majority counts in a democracy. Ours is the true Shiv Sena. This is the victory of truth and people as well as Balasaheb’s blessings, he said.
Uddhav Thackeray alleged a conspiracy and said constitutional bodies had been misused. “The order is fatal for democracy and unexpected. It will be good if the PM declares from the Red Fort the end of democracy and the beginning of a dictatorship,” he said, reacting to the order.He said his party will move the Supreme Court against the ECI order.
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