INDIA. Mumbai: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday postponed the decision on the dispute between two Shiv Sena factions-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and Eknath Shinde (now Maharashtra CM) over the title and election symbol to Monday, January 23.
After nearly three and half hours of deposition, the ECI asked both factions to file written statements by Monday, based on which further decisions will be taken.
On Friday, the hearing, which was to be held at 3 pm, was postponed by one hour. It started only after Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal representing Uddhav Thackeray, reached the ECI at about 4.07 pm.
Sibal urged the ECI to give an extension to the National Executive Committee of the Shiv Sena since the term of Uddhav Thackeray as party chief is expiring on January 23. If the extension is given, then Thackeray will get an extension as the party chief.
It was argued on behalf of Thackeray that the Shiv Sena has a proper constitution and the election of the national executive committee is held from time to time. The party runs on the basis of the Representative Council, a body different from the legislative wing. The Thackeray faction has more organisational strength, Sibal stated.
According to Sibal, the Constitution of Thackeray’s faction is legal and valid. At the same time, the faction led by Shinde is not a political party. It did not submit the documents as required.
Out of the affidavits of 61 district chiefs claimed to have submitted to the ECI, the affidavits of 28 district chiefs did not reach the ECI. As such, all the affidavits submitted by the Shinde faction be verified, Sibal demanded.
Besides, in 2018 while accepting the post of the leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party, Shinde had given a declaration to the ECI pledging loyalty to the party. “If he had given such a declaration, then how he can say that the Constitution of Shiv Sena is illegal?,” Sibal asked.
“If the Shinde faction believed in democracy, then why its 16 MLAs went to Guwahati, and why did they not attend the SLP meeting in Mumbai? This is a mockery of democracy,” he further added.
“Those who have deserted the party cannot be part of the Representative Council of the Shiv Sena. Besides, Shinde cannot be the main leader of his faction,” Sibal argued.
Senior Advocate Devdatt Kamat also representing Thackeray, said that the strength of MPs and MLAs and the strength of the Representative Council are different issues. The strength of the Shiv Sena’s Representative Council is more. Kamat also reiterated the demand to give an extension to the Shiv Sena’s Representative Council and eventually the extension to Uddhav Thackeray as the party chief.
Kamat added, “Shinde was in the Shiv Sena, then how he can claim that the Shiv Sena’s constitution is unconstitutional? Shinde and others contested the election based on the AB forms issued by the Shiv Sena.”
Shinde’s defection is a rebellion, and it is yet to hold any meeting of its Representative Council. The Shiv Sena party chief is the head of the party, and there was no separate post for the chief leader. As such Thackeray is the top leader of the Shiv Sena, Kamat argued.
The directions given by the Supreme Court in the Sadiq Ali vs ECI( November 11, 1971) are not applicable in this case, Kamat pointed out. He demanded that the Thackeray faction is a real Shiv Sena and, as such, the title and election symbol should be allotted to it, Kamat argued.
Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethamalani countered, saying how the Representative Council topic can be singularly applicable only to the Thackeray faction. However, the ECI intervened and directed that the arguments on behalf of the Thackeray faction be completed first.
Jethamalani in his brief deposition said that the Shinde faction has adhered to the constitution of the Shiv Sena. Shinde is the main leader since the Shiv Sena has been divided and a separate group has been formed.
He argued that Shinde’s appointment as the Chief of the new party is legal. Besides, more elected representatives were with Shinde. As such, the party title and symbol be allotted to the Shinde faction, he argued.
Advocate Maninder Singh appearing on behalf of the Shinde faction reiterated that the Shinde faction having a majority of the elected representatives, was the real Shiv Sena. As such, that faction will be allotted the party title and the symbol.
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