The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday allocated the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and poll symbol ‘bow and arrow’ to the Eknath Shinde faction. The ECI in its ruling noted that the MLAs backing Eknath Shinde got about 76 per cent of the votes polled in favour of 55 wining Shiv Sena candidates in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections.
MLAs of the Uddhav Thackeray led faction got 23.5 per cent of the votes polled in favour of the winning Shiv Sena candidates, the three-member commission noted in its unanimous order.
The Shiv Sena was split into two factions last year when the current Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had revolted against Uddhav Thackeray which led to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state. Over 40 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs had backed Shinde and forced Thackeray to resign as the CM.
Since then, the two factions of Shinde and Thackeray have been embroiled in a tussle over the name and the poll symbol ‘bow and arrow’.
The ECI today in a 78-page order allowed the Uddhav Thackeray faction to keep the ‘flaming torch’ symbol till the completion of the assembly bypolls in Maharashtra.
ECI noted that the current constitution of the Shiv Sena was undemocratic. “It has been mutilated to undemocratically appoint people from a coterie as office bearers without any election at all. Such party structures fail to inspire confidence,” ECI observed.
The constitution of the Shiv Sena that was amended in 2018 was not submitted before the poll watchdog, the ECI noted. It had undone the act of introducing democratic norms in the party constitution of 1999, introduced by late Balasaheb Thackeray at the insistence of the commission.
Furthermore, the ECI mentioned that the undemocratic norms of the original constitution of Shiv Sena, that had been rejected by the commission in 1999, had been reintroduced “in a surreptitious manner” making the party akin to fiefdom.
The ECI further advised all parties to reflect democratic ethos and principles of the inner party democracy and regularly disclose aspects of their inner party functioning on their websites including organizational details, holding of elections, the copy of the constitution and the list of office bearers.
“The constitution of political parties ought to provide for free, fair and transparent elections to the posts of office bearers and a further free and fair procedure for the resolution of internal disputes. These procedures ought to be difficult to amend and should be amendable only after ensuring larger support of the organisational members for the same,” ECI added.
It may be noted that in January, both Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray submitted their statements supporting their claims of control over the party name and symbol to the ECI.
The ‘bow and arrow’ symbol of the Shiv Sena had been frozen by the ECI which allotted ‘two swords and shield’ to the Eknath Shinde led faction and the ‘flaming torch’ symbol to the Thackeray camp for the bypoll in Andheri East assembly constituency in November last year.