Uddhav Thackeray faction submits three alternative symbol and party names to ECI
Mumbai: Following the Election Commission of India (ECI) decision to freeze the Shiv Sena’s bow-and-arrow election symbol in the wake of a bitter factional struggle between the two rival Sena groups led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday remarked that the ECI’s decision was “unexpected” and termed it as “an injustice.”
Taking to Facebook Live address to people of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray disclosed that his faction had submitted three alternative symbols and party names to the poll body. He urged the ECI to swiftly grant his group an interim party symbol and name before the November 3, Andheri East Assembly by-election.
The Thackeray faction submitted three alternative party names to the poll body, which are as follows – ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thackeray’, ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb Prabodhankar (Uddhav’s grandfather) Thackeray’ and the ‘Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray.’
The Thackeray faction has also suggested a trishul (trident), a mashaal (torch) and the ‘rising sun’ to the ECI as alternatives for a new party symbol, added Uddhav Thackeray.
Lashing out at the Eknath Shinde-led rival faction and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Uddhav Thackeray warned that the latter would throw away the Shinde group once it had served its purpose. “The party symbol is already frozen. Now, what else remains? The confusion they (BJP) wanted to sow in our ranks has already been carried out,” he further added.
Thackeray dared the Shinde faction to use his father’s (Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s) name in their new faction’s name. He remarked, “I dare you (Shinde camp) to come before the public by not using Balasaheb’ s name. Why don’t you form your own party or merge it with the BJP. Today, you still need the Shiv Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray, but not his son (Uddhav).”
Reserving his harshest criticism for the BJP, the Sena president said that while the BJP today accused him of forsaking ‘Hindutva’ by allying with the Congress, the Congress had never thought of banning the Sena in the past when they were in power.
“State leaders had urged Indira Gandhi to ban the Sena, but she did not do so. But today, the BJP’s intentions are clear and they are out to finish off the Sena. They trouble ordinary Shiv Sainiks who, by their toil, had helped the BJP grow in Maharashtra. What kind of Hindutva is this?” Uddhav Thackeray said that despite the ECI freezing of the symbol, he was not perturbed and remarked that he would stand firm.
Earlier, in a video conference with his faction’s district chiefs, Uddhav Thackeray had claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reportedly approached him before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls for an alliance as the PM’s image had taken a beating after the implementation of demonetization.
Thackeray further remarked, “They (the BJP) know that they have no other option besides using Balasaheb Thackeray’s name in Maharashtra. Hence, they are trying to finish us off.”
Thackeray camp loyalist Lok Sabha MP Arvind Sawant meanwhile said that his faction will never let go of its claim over the bow and arrow symbol. “That symbol is rightfully ours,” Arvind Sawant said. He further accused the ECI of acting under the BJP pressure.
Incidentally, the Sena had contested local and Assembly elections on several symbols like the sword and the shield and the railway engine in the past before being allotted the iconic bow and arrow symbol in 1989.
Meanwhile, terming the ECI’s decision “unsurprising”, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that whenever factional disputes had arisen within political parties in the past 20-25 years, the ECI, as an interim measure, had always frozen the party symbol before giving its final decision.
Fadnavis added, “When the ECI will announce its final decision, I have full faith it will consider CM Eknath Shinde’s claim to the bow and arrow symbol.” In a swift rejoinder to Uddhav Thackeray’s criticism, Devendra Fadnavis said that the Sena had managed to get 18 MPs and 56 MLAs in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls only by seeking votes on Narendra Modi’s name.