Shinde Faction takes control of Shiv Sena; Uddhav Fumes

In a big jolt to Uddhav Thackeray, the Election Commission earlier in the day officially allotted the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and its symbol ‘bow and arrow’ to the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

The three-member Commission had issued a unanimous order on a petition filed six months ago by Shinde. According to the order, the Commission relied on the party’s numerical strength in the legislative wing, where the chief minister has the support of 40 out of 55 MLAs and 13 out of 18 Lok Sabha members.

The Commission provided a detailed explanation for its decision to disregard the claims of the competing factions led by Shinde and Thackeray regarding the party’s organizational wing. It argued that amendments made to the Shiv Sena constitution in 2018, after the death of party founder Balasaheb Thackeray, were undemocratic, and allowed for the appointment of individuals from a select group as office bearers without holding any elections.

After the EC ruling, Shinde hailed it as a triumph of truth and the people, as well as a blessing from Balasaheb Thackeray. However, Uddhav Thackeray, the former chief minister of Maharashtra, was outraged and vowed to challenge the EC’s decision in the Supreme Court. It is the first time that the Thackeray family has lost its grip on the political party that was established in 1966 by Balasaheb Thackeray, based on the principles of providing justice to the local people.

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The Commission has stated that it used two principles, namely the “Test of party Constitution” and the “Test of Majority,” to come to a decision. It noted that in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls, the MLAs who supported Shinde received almost 76 percent of the votes that were cast in favor of the 55 winning Shiv Sena candidates. On the other hand, the Thackeray faction’s MLAs received only 23.5 percent of the votes that were cast in favor of the winning Shiv Sena candidates.

The Commission pointed out that the respondent (the Thackeray faction) had mainly relied on the party’s 2018 constitution to assert its claim over the election symbol and the party organization. However, the party did not inform the Commission about the changes made to the constitution.

The Commission’s order stated that the revised 2018 Constitution was not available to the Commission and, moreover, it found the party Constitution, which the Thackeray faction relied on, to be “undemocratic.”

In summary, the party Constitution states that the President can appoint the Electoral College that will elect him, which contradicts the democratic principles and defeats the purpose for which the exercise was conducted. This was stated by the Commission, which added that the 2018 amendments had nullified the introduction of democratic norms in the party’s constitution of 1999 and the functioning of Shiv Sena, which were previously introduced by Balasaheb Thackeray at the Commission’s request.

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