NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday announced that the party name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the ‘Bow and Arrow’ symbol will be retained by the Eknath Shinde faction.
Notably, both factions of Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray) have been fighting for the bow and arrow symbol of the party since Shinde (present Maharashtra Chief Minister) revolted against Thackeray last year.
The Commission observed that the current constitution of the Shiv Sena party is 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, it noted.
In a landmark decision with far-reaching implications on political parties and their conduct, the ECI advised all political parties to reflect on democratic ethos and principles of inner party democracy and regularly disclose on their respective websites aspects of their inner party functioning, such as organisational details, holding of elections, the copy of party constitution and 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”, the ECI said.
“The Constitution of Shiv Sena amended in 2018 is not given to ECI. Amendments had undone the act of introducing democratic norms in the party constitution of 1999, brought by the late Balasaheb Thackeray at the insistence of the Commission”, the ECI added.
The ECI observed that the undemocratic norms of the original constitution of Shiv Sena, which was not accepted by the Commission in 1999, have been brought back in a surreptitious manner, further making the party akin to a fiefdom.
The Rashtriya Karyakarini is a body which is ‘elected’ by a largely ‘appointed’ Pratinidhi Sabha. The Commission conveyed to Shiv Sena in the year 1999 on the draft amendments when Balasaheb was made leader of Sena for life: “To put in a nutshell, the party Constitution envisages the president nominating the Electoral College that is to elect him. Therefore, any reliance on the ‘test of party constitution’ for determining the present dispute case will be undemocratic and catalytic in spreading such practices across parties”, the ECI noted.
The ECI said that the 2018 constitution of Shiv Sena, by way of its plain reading on the vital axis of remedy/modality of dissent, stifles all options of the rival group(s) in its very formulation. It confers widespread powers of making various organisational appointments on a single person.
“The 40 MLAs, supporting the Shinde faction, garnered 36,57327 votes out of a total of 47,82440 votes i.e ~76 per cent of votes polled in favour of 55 winning MLAs in the GA to the LA 19. This contrasts with 11,25113 votes garnered by 15 MLAs whose support is claimed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction i.e ~ 23.5 per cent of votes polled in favour of winning 55 MLAs”, it said.
Further, as against 90,49,789, total votes polled by Shiv Sena in the general election to the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra in 2019 (including the losing candidates), votes polled by 40 MLAs supporting the Shinde faction come to ~40 per cent whereas votes polled by 15 MLAs supporting the Uddhav Thakre faction come to ~12 per cent of total votes, the Commission said.
“The 13 MPs supporting the Shinde faction garnered 74,88,634 votes out of a total of 1,02,45143 votes i.e ~73 per cent of votes polled in favour of 18 MPs in the general election to the Lok Sabha, 2019. This contrasts with 27,56,509 votes garnered by 5 MPs supporting Uddhav Thakre faction (although claimed six and affidavits filed by only four) i.e ~ 27 per cent of votes polled in favour of 18 MPs,” the Commission further stated.
Further, as against 1,25,89064, the total votes polled by Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha election, 2019 (including the losing candidates), votes polled by 13 MPs supporting the Shinde faction come to ~59 per cent whereas votes polled by 5 MPs (claimed 6 whereas affidavits of only 4) supporting the Uddhav Thakre faction comes to ~22 per cent, the Commission added.
Last month, both the Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and former CM Uddhav Thackeray-led factions of the Shiv Sena submitted their written statements in support of their claims of control over the party name and symbol to the Election Commission.
The ECI had frozen the bow and arrow symbol of the Shiv Sena and had allotted the ‘Two Swords and Shield’ symbol to the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena and the ‘flaming torch’ (mashaal) election symbol was allotted to the Uddhav Thackeray faction for the bypoll in Andheri East assembly constituency in November last year.
In November last year, Uddhav Thackeray had moved a writ plea in the Delhi High Court against the ECI decision to freeze the election symbol of ‘bow and arrow’. However, the plea was dismissed by the court.
Notably, EC passed the interim order in Andheri East bypolls, saying neither of the two groups shall be permitted to use the symbol ‘bow and arrow, reserved for Shiv Sena. The Commission’s ruling had come amid the ongoing symbol war between the Uddhav Thackeray camp and rival Eknath Shinde camp. (ANI)