Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a strong attack on his rival Eknath Shinde, calling him a “traitor who won’t change”, after the Election Commission today allowed Team Shinde to keep the Shiv Sena name and the party’s bow and arrow symbol.
The Election Commission’s decision comes nearly eight months after Mr Shinde, the current Chief Minister, revolted with over 40 Sena MLAs and wrested control of the party from Mr Thackeray’s alliance government with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
“They have stolen the Shiv Sena symbol. We will keep fighting and won’t lose hope. For now, let Shinde be happy with his theft. Once a traitor, always a traitor,” Mr Thackeray said.
In the order today, the Election Commission said Team Eknath Shinde can keep the name “Shiv Sena” and the “bow and arrow” symbol, while the Uddhav Thackeray faction can keep the name “Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray” and the “flaming torch” symbol.
Referring to this, Mr Thackeray said the decision would be “fatal for democracy”.
“Now the Prime Minister should announce from the Red Fort that democracy is dead,” Mr Thackeray told reporters in a packed hall at his Mumbai home, Matoshree. “The real bow and arrow are with us. They (Team Shinde) only have these on paper,” said Mr Thackeray, whose father Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena.
The Supreme Court is yet to give its verdict on a request by Team Thackeray to disqualify 16 Sena MLAs among the ones who revolted against him last year, yet the Election Commission’s order on the party name and symbol has come, which is “unfair”, the former Chief Minister said.
“I had requested the Election Commission to wait as the hearing is going on in the Supreme Court. It is very unfortunate. In future, anyone can buy MLAs or MPs and become chief minister or Prime Minister,” Mr Thackeray said.
Mr Shinde called the Election Commission’s decision to recognise his faction as the real Shiv Sena a victory of truth and people. He said numbers matter in a democracy and he has them. “This is a victory of truth and people as well as blessings of Balasaheb Thackeray. I thank Election Commission. Majority counts in democracy,” Mr Shinde said.
In a 78-page order on the protracted battle for control of the Shiv Sena, the Election Commission said Mr Shinde, who became Chief Minister after the revolt, was supported by MLAs with 76 per cent of the party’s winning votes in the 2019 Maharashtra assembly polls.