Can the real Shiv Sena please stand up? The Battle over Sena party symbol is on the cards


Maharashtra’s high-decibel political drama comes to an end, with Eknath Shinde sworn in as new state chief minister Thursday night. While it is clear who is in power in Maharashtra, the question remains: Who is the real Shiv Sena?

ONE SYMBOL, ONE PART, TWO APPLICANTS

Eknath Shinde and former CM Uddhav Thackeray called their respective factions the real Shiv Sena. Both say they will carry on the legacy of party founder Balasaheb Thackeray.

READ | Uddhav, Raj and now Eknath Shinde – who will win the battle for Balasaheb’s legacy?

While Maharashtra’s political wrinkles have been ironed out, the battle will now shift to the Electoral Commission. The next round of fights will be for the Shiv Sena’s bow and arrow party symbol and it will be the election commission that will determine who gets the symbol.

Reports suggest that Eknath Shinde’s camp is preparing to claim the party’s election symbol. The Uddhav Thackeray faction, however, obviously won’t give up without a fight. For both sides, it will be a daunting task.

The “real Shiv Sena” will need to have the majority support of all party bureaucrats, state legislators and MPs. It is not enough to have a large number of deputies on one’s side for it to be recognized as the party.

READ | Maharashtra crisis: Rebel camp led by Shinde seeks recognition of new party called Shiv Sena (Balasaheb)

BALL IN THE COURT OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

To begin with, it is important to note that parties must apply to the Electoral Commission for the allocation of a symbol or to claim an existing symbol. In the latter case, the commission makes a decision based on the support of party lawmakers and officials of each faction.

In the case of Shiv Sena, the new faction (Shinde camp) will not immediately be recognized as a separate party. The anti-defection law protects rebellious lawmakers as long as they merge with another party or form a new party.

Once the parties contact the commission, EC makes a decision based on the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allocation) Order 1968.

It states: “Where the Commission is satisfied that there are rival sections or groups of a recognized political party, each of which claims to be that party, the Commission may, after considering all available facts and circumstances of the case and of the hearing (their) representatives and other persons desiring to be heard, decide that one of these sections or rival groups or that none of these sections or rival groups is this recognized political party and the Commission decision binds all such rival sections or groups.”

READ | Rebuilding Sena: Why the Thackerays are caught between a rock and a hard place

The common notion according to which it is enough to have 2/3 of the deputies to be recognized as the party is not sufficient. The “true Shiv Sena” will have to prove the majority support of all party bureau members, legislators and MPs to be awarded the symbol.

According to former Lok Sabha Secretary General, PDT Achary, “The CIS must decide which faction is the true party and after hearing both sides in detail and the evidence submitted before it before deciding on the allocation of the symbol” .

SYMBOL ASSIGNMENT TO POLITICAL PARTIES: THE PROCESS

The battles over symbols date back decades and have resurfaced time and time again. In most of the disputes that have reached the Electoral Commission, a clear majority of party delegates, office bearers, deputies and deputies supported one of the factions. Whenever the EC could not test the strength of rival groups based on support within the party organization, it was content to test the majority only among elected deputies and deputies.

– When two factions claim the same symbol, the EC first examines the support each faction enjoys, both within the party organization and its legislative wing.

– Then, he proceeds to the identification of senior officials and decision-making bodies within the political party and proceeds to determine the number of its members or officials who support which faction.

– After that, the commission proceeds to count the number of legislators and legislators in each camp.

READ | Battle at Shiv Sena, dilemma for Shiv Sainiks

Taking into account all of the above, the EC can rule in favor of either faction or none of them.

The commission can also freeze the party symbol and ask both factions to register with new names and symbols. In case polls are imminent, he can ask the factions to choose a temporary symbol.

If the factions decide to unite in the future and reclaim the original symbol, the EC has the authority to rule on the merger and could decide to return the symbol to the unified party.

FREEZING SYMBOLS

On some occasions, the electoral commission has also frozen party symbols.

1964 – CPI (M): The oldest case dates back to 1964, that of the CPI. A splinter group approached the ECI in December 1964 to urge it to recognize them as CPI (Marxist). This faction provided ECI with a list of MPs and MPs from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal who supported them. The ECI recognized the faction as CPI(M) after finding that the votes obtained by MPs and MPs supporting the splinter group totaled over 4% in the 3 states.

1968 – CONGRESS: One of the most publicized cases of symbols was that of Congress. Indira Gandhi’s tensions with a rival group within the party came to a head on May 3, 1969. Indira Gandhi was expelled from Congress and the party split in two. The old Congress (O) was led by Nijalingappa and the “new” Congress (J) was led by Indira.

The “old” Congress was assigned the party symbol of a pair of oxen carrying a yoke by the Election Commission, while the breakaway faction was assigned the symbol of a cow with her calf.

The commission recognized both the Congress (O) as well as the splinter faction whose president was Jagjivan Ram. Congress (O) had a substantial presence in some states and met the criteria set for party recognition under Sections 6 and 7 of the Symbols Ordinance.

2017 – AIADMK: In 2017, after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, a battle erupted between O Panneerselvam and VK Sasikala factions with both claiming the party symbol.

After hearing from both sides, the election commission issued an interim order freezing the AIADMK’s “two-leaf” election symbol. ECI’s order meant that the two rival camps could use the party’s symbol or name for RK Nagar’s upcoming prestigious assembly poll.

Later, the commission awarded the AIADMK’s “two leaf” symbol for the Panneerselvam-Palaniswami comboe, after proving that they enjoyed a majority in the legislative and organizational wings of the party.

2021 – LJP: After the death of former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan in 2020, a struggle for control of the party (Lok Janshankti Party) broke out between Chirag Paswan and his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras.

Chirag Paswan has written to the Electoral Commission to claim the party’s ‘bungalow’ election symbol in 2021 ahead of bypass polls at Bihar’s Kusheshwar Asthan (Darbhanga) and Tarapur (Munger) assembly seats.

The Commission froze the election symbol of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)and prevented either of the two party factions from fighting there.

The EC assigned a helicopter symbol to the Lok Janshakti party of Chirag Paswan (Ram Vilas) and a sewing machine symbol to the faction led by Pashupati Paras, the Rashtriya Lok Janshakti party.

So what is happening in the case of Shiv Sena? We will have to wait and watch. Electoral commission sources told India Today TV that none of the Sena factions have yet approached body staking claiming the iconic bow and arrow symbol.

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