EC bars Thackeray, Shinde camps from using Shiv Sena name, party symbol

The interim order came on the Shinde faction\'s request seeking it be allocated the symbol as the Andheri East assembly bypoll is approaching

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday barred the Shiv Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde from using the party name and its election symbol in the Andheri East assembly bypoll.

In an interim order over the claims by the rival factions for control of the organisation, the commission asked them to suggest by Monday three different name choices and also as many free symbols for allocation to their respective groups.

The interim order came on Saturday on the Shinde faction's request seeking it be allocated the symbol as the Andheri East assembly bypoll is approaching.

"The Commission is duty bound to ensure that all electoral steps of the bye election are free of any confusion and contradiction and thus its next step are necessarily agnostic to the possibility of either of the faction participating in the poll,” the interim order said.

The rival factions had approached the Commission after the split in the Shiv Sena ranks in June, claiming to be the 'real Shiv Sena'.

The Commission had earlier asked the rival groups to submit documentary proof on legislative and organisational support by August 8 to back their claims.

The deadline was extended to October 7 after the request of the Thackeray faction.

On October 4, the Shinde faction had moved the Election Commission seeking the allocation of the bow and arrow poll symbol in view of the Andheri East assembly by-election that was notified on Friday.

The Thackeray faction had submitted its response to the claim on Saturday and had sought four more weeks to carefully understand the documentation submitted by the rival faction.

The Commission said the interim order was necessary to address the statutory spaces generated by the schedule of bye-elections notified on October 3.

Accordingly, in order to place both the rival groups on an even keel and to protect their rights and interests, and going by precedence, the Commission said neither of the two groups be permitted to use the name of the party Shiv Sena.

"Neither of the two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol 'Bow & Arrow' reserved for 'Shivsena'," the order read.

"Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, including, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party 'Shivsena'," it said.

"Both the groups shall also be allotted such different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purposes of the current bye-elections," the order read.

The Commission has directed both the groups to furnish, latest by 1:00 PM on October 10, choices of names and symbols for their groups which may be allotted to them.

The EC said the interim order will continue and "till the final determination of the dispute". The last date for filing nominations for the November 3 bypoll is October 14.

The fresh claim to the 'bow and arrow' election symbol by the Shinde faction is seen as an attempt to deny its use by the Thackeray group which has decided to field Rutuja Latke, the widow of MLA Ramesh Latke, for the bypoll.

The BJP, an ally of the Shinde faction, has decided to field Murji Patel, a corporator in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, for the bypoll necessitated due to the death of Ramesh Latke.

The Congress and the NCP have decided to support the candidate of the Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, their coalition partner in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

The interim order was issued after the Commission, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar net this afternoon.

Shinde had raised a banner of revolt against Thackeray, accusing him of entering into an "unnatural alliance" with the Congress and NCP. Over 40 of the Shiv Sena's 55 MLAs had supported Shinde, forcing the resignation of Thackeray from the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

Twelve of the 18 Lok Sabha members of the Shiv Sena also came out in support of Shinde, who later claimed to be the leader of the original Shiv Sena.

The Andheri East bypoll is the first after Shinde and the BJP unseated the MVA government in June, and is considered by political analysts as a precursor to settling of claims by Shinde and Thackeray to be the "real Shiv Sena".

( Source : PTI )
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