In a significant setback to Uddhav Thackeray, the Election Commission has allotted the name and poll symbol of Shiv Sena to the faction led by Eknath Shinde, citing the overwhelming numerical superiority of Shinde’s group in the party.
The Commission observed that the 2018 amendments made to the party’s constitution had reversed the efforts to introduce democratic norms.
On Friday, the election commission ruled in favor of the group, allotting them the party’s name and iconic ‘bow and arrow symbol.
The decision was unanimous, but the Thackeray-led faction was permitted to retain the name ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)’ and the ‘flaming torch’ symbol, granted to them in an earlier temporary order, until the conclusion of the ongoing assembly by-polls in the state.
The Commission based its decision on the ‘Test of party Constitution’ and the ‘Test of Majority’ principles.
According to the Commission, the Shinde-led group secured almost 76% of the votes that were cast in favor of the 55 winning Shiv Sena candidates during the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, while the Thackeray-led faction received only 23.5%.
The petitioner’s group, which comprised 40 MLAs supporting Shinde, garnered 36,57327 votes out of 47,82440 total votes cast in the last assembly election, compared to 11,25113 votes from 15 MLAs of the Uddhav camp.
The Commission noted that the “overwhelming numerical superiority of the petitioner in the legislative wing is categorically verifiable.”
- The Election Commission stated that in the 2019 General election for the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena received a total of 90,49,789 votes (including the losing candidates).
- However, out of the 40 MLAs supporting the Shinde-led faction, only 40% of the total votes were polled in their favor, while the 15 MLAs backing the Uddhav Thackeray faction garnered only 12% of the total votes.
- In the 2019 General election for the Lok Sabha, the 13 MPs supporting the Shinde-led group secured 74,88,634 votes out of a total of 1,02,45143 votes, which is approximately 73% of the votes polled in favor of 18 MPs.
- In contrast, the 5 MPs supporting the Uddhav Thackeray faction (although they claimed to have 6 MPs, and affidavits were filed by only 4), secured only 27% of the votes polled in favor of 18 MPs, which is equivalent to 27,56,509 votes.
As per the Commission, the Thackeray-led faction relied primarily on the 2018 Constitution of the party to assert its claim over the party symbol and organization.
However, the Commission found that the party had not disclosed to them about the amendment made to the Constitution.
The Commission observed that the 2018 amendments to the party’s Constitution had reversed the efforts to introduce democratic norms that were established in the 1999 Constitution.
The latter was implemented at the behest of the Commission, and it was introduced to regulate the functioning of Shiv Sena as per the principles set out by Balasaheb Thackeray.
This is the first time that the Thackeray family has lost control over the party, which was founded in 1966 by Balasaheb Thackeray on the basis of providing justice to the sons of the soil.
Later, Shiv Sena adopted Hindutva as its primary ideology and formed an alliance with the BJP, which lasted until 2019.
At that point, Uddhav Thackeray decided to end the partnership with the BJP and formed a government with the support of the NCP and Congress.
However, Eknath Shinde broke ranks with Uddhav Thackeray in June of last year and went on to form a government in alliance with the BJP.