ECI Recognizes Eknath Shinde Faction As Real, Allocated ‘Shiv Sena’ Name

Guwahati: The Eknath Shinde faction was given the name “Shiv Sena” and the election emblem “bow and arrow” by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday. In its judgement, the ECI found that in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the MLAs supporting Eknath Shinde received almost 76% of the votes cast in support of the 55 Shiv Sena candidates who won.

According to the unanimous order of the three-member committee, MLAs of the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction received 23.5% of the votes cast in favour of the Shiv Sena candidates who won.

The Shiv Sena broke into two factions when Eknath Shinde, the current chief minister of Maharashtra, rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state fell. Thackeray was compelled to step down as chief minister after more than 40 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs supported Shinde.

Since then, a dispute over the name and the election emblem “bow and arrow” has divided the two factions of Shinde and Thackeray.

The ECI today in a 78-page judgement gave the Uddhav Thackeray group permission to continue using the “flaming torch” symbol up till the conclusion of the Maharashtra assembly bypolls.

ECI noted that the current constitution of the Shiv Sena was undemocratic. “It has been mutilated to undemocratically appoint people from a coterie as office bearers without any election at all. Such party structures fail to inspire confidence,” ECI observed.

The Shiv Sena’s 2018 amendments to its constitution were not filed to the poll monitor, according to the ECI. It had undone the commission’s recommendation that the late Balasaheb Thackeray include democratic principles in the party constitution he drafted in 1999.

The ECI further stated that the Shiv Sena’s original undemocratic norms, which had been rejected by the commission in 1999, had been “subtly” reinstated, turning the organisation into a fiefdom.

The ECI further advised all parties to reflect the democratic ethos and principles of inner party democracy and regularly disclose aspects of their inner party functioning on their websites, such as organisational details, the holding of elections, the copy of the constitution and a list of office bearers.

“The constitution of political parties ought to provide for free, fair and transparent elections to the posts of office bearers and a further free and fair procedure for the resolution of internal disputes. These procedures ought to be difficult to amend and should be amendable only after ensuring larger support of the organisational members for the same,” ECI added.

It should be noted that in January, the ECI received declarations from Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray substantiating their claims of ownership of the party name and emblem.

The ECI had banned the Shiv Sena’s “bow and arrow” symbol and instead gave the Eknath Shinde-led side “two swords and a shield” and the Thackeray camp a “flaming torch” for the by-election in the Andheri East assembly constituency in November of last year.

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