EC takes note of fight against Shiv Sena symbol and invites submissions by August 8

PTI, Jul 23, 2022, 12:02 PM IST

The election commission has asked rival factions of the Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, to submit documents by August 8 in support of their claims to the political party’s election symbol. Election commission sources said both sides were asked to submit documents, including letters of support from the party’s legislative and organizational wings and written statements from rival factions. They said the requirement complied with Section 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allocation) Order 1968.

Earlier this week, the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena wrote to the Commission asking it to award the party’s “bow and arrow” electoral symbol, citing the recognition given to them by the Lok Sabha and the Assembly of Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena split last month when more than two-thirds of the party’s MPs withdrew their support for the Maharashtra government led by Uddhav Thackeray, casting their lot with Shinde. Shinde was sworn in as chief minister of Maharashtra on June 30 with the backing of the BJP. Last Tuesday, at least 12 of the Lok Sabha’s 18 Shiv Sena members expressed “no confidence” in floor boss Vinayak Raut and declared Rahul Shewale as their floor boss.

Lok Sabha Speaker recognized Shewale as the leader on the same day. To ensure that no faction is deprived of information, the polling committee also ordered the exchange of documents submitted by the two groups over the past two days. “It’s the first step, verification can come much later,” said a former EC official. The claim over the symbol is gaining prominence as the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Maharashtra State Election Commission to notify local bodies of the elections within two weeks. Elections are scheduled in several civic bodies in Maharashtra, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which would indicate which Sena faction is gaining popular support. Previously, the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena had written to the EC, asking it to hear its views before making any decisions on representations regarding claims to the party’s name and polling symbol.

James V. Hayes