NEW DELHI: The faction led by Uddhav Thackeray is on an edge after the Election Commission (EC) announced to give the symbol (bow and arrow) and name “Shiv Sena”, which was earlier frozen by the EC, to the Eknath Shinde-led group, and the Supreme Court refusing to stay the EC’s order.
However, Uddhav-led faction leaders say that they are mentally prepared to fight this phase out, and are also armed to contest on the new symbol.
There is an understanding in political circles that if the BJP finds, through its internal assessment, that there is a sympathy wave in favour of Thackeray, they (the Shinde-BJP combine) would contest the upcoming elections on the work done by the state government in Maharashtra, rather than Balasaheb Thackeray’s iconic legacy which both the factions have been fighting for.
The perception among Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) partners is that the BJP would keep plotting a relevant strategy from time-to-time to keep Uddhav’s “influence” in check and overshadowed by Eknath Shinde. An MVA leader said, “With the split partners fighting against each other, friction between the two is expected to continue, while the BJP would want to strengthen itself from the opportunity.”
A political analyst said that at a time when information is so easily accessible, it would not be mature to say that voters would be confused as to who is who. “Moreover, it’s not that they are fully unaware of the reasons for the party’s split,” he said.
He further added, “If people vote for Shinde, they will vote for him deliberately. If people believe Uddhav Thackeray is the real Shiv Sena, they will vote for him even if he contests on a ‘star’ or ‘moon’ symbol.”
A Shinde faction leader said, “There are some blind loyalists of Balasaheb Thackeray and if they think that ideology has been compromised, they would definitely vote for Shinde.”
Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi and spokesperson of the Uddhav-led faction told The Sunday Guardian, “First of all, this issue has been challenged in court, so this is not the final frontier. The way they have gone making decisions, it goes against the spirit of the 10th schedule. Moreover, we fought on the new symbol which was allotted to us by the ECI for the Andheri East bypoll; we won there with a higher margin compared to 2019. The cadre continues to be with us, it’s only those who got sold out as legislative members as well as Parliament members who won on the party ticket and party symbol under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray and yet chose to move away.”
She added, “Most of the cadre is with us. Out of around 20 lakh primary members, affidavits were given and they (Shinde faction) have only been able to prove the support of 3 lakh members. Among 220 national executives, 180 are with us and Eknath Shinde had the support of only 11. Moreover, 15 Assembly legislators, six Lok Sabha members, three Rajya Sabha members and 10 MLCs are intact on our side.”
In its recent Supreme Court judgement, the top court refused to stay the Election Commission’s order recognising the Shinde-led faction as the real Shiv Sena and allotting the symbol “bow and arrow” and the name to it.