INDIA. Mumbai: The hearing of the petitions claiming the original poll symbol of “bow and arrow” by two Shiv Sena factions—Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and Eknath Shinde (now Maharashtra’s chief minister)—was postponed to January 20 by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Thackeray, sought more time to complete his arguments on the party constitution and related issues.
In his arguments on Tuesday, Sibal claimed that the split in the Shiv Sena and formation of the Shinde faction were imaginary since all those who defected had contested assembly elections based on the AB forms signed by Thackeray.
As such they cannot claim to be a separate party merely in the basis of defection of few MLAs and MPs since the party organisation is different from the legislature party. He pointed out that those who defected never objected to the party constitution and challenged the authority of Thackeray as the party chief before their defection.
Sibal also pointed out that there were infirmities in the documents submitted by the Shinde faction to the ECI. whereas a sizable number of documents, including those in support of the primary membership, were submitted to the ECI by the Thackeray faction. He argued that an identification parade should be held to verify the veracity of the members from both sides.
He also pointed out that the Thackeray faction should be allowed to conduct the organisational elections since the five-year term (2018–2023) of Thackeray as the party chief is expiring on January 23.
It was also argued on behalf of Thackeray that since the matter is already pending in the Supreme Court, there is no tremendous hurry to decide on the symbol issue.
Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the Shinde faction, argued that the Shinde faction had a majority in the Maharashtra State Legislature and the Parliament and that there was nothing wrong with the legislators defecting and forming their own group.
Jethamalani quoted the Sadiq Ali case (1971, a split in the then-Congress party) and said that the Shinde faction has majority members in the Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha. As such, it is the rightful claimant of the original “bow and arrow” symbol.
As of today, the strength of the respective factions is: Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray): 16 MLAs, 13 MLCs, 05 Lok Sabha MPs, 03 Rajya Sabha MPs, 182 National Executive Committee members, 3 lakh affidavits pledging support to the UBT faction (Gat Pramukhs to District Chiefs), 20 lakh primary members, total documents submitted to the ECI: 23,00,182.
Eknath Shinde (Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena): 40 MLAs, 13 Lok Sabha MPs, 711 organisational representatives, 2046 representatives of local self-governments, 4,48,318 primary members, and 11 district chiefs.
It may be recalled that the new title “Shiv Sena” (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the symbol of a flaming torch were allotted to Thackeray by the ECI on October 10, 2022.
Whereas the Shinde faction was given the title of “Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena” and was allotted the poll symbol of ‘Two Swords & Shield’ by the ECI on October 12, 2022.
Also Read: Maharashtra Political Crisis: SC Moves the Hearing Related to Split between Shiv Sena