The Election Commission has asked the rival factions of the Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, to submit documents by August 8 in support of their claims on the election symbol of the political outfit. Election Commission sources said the two sides have been asked to submit documents, including letters of support from the legislative and organisational wings of the party and the written statements of the rival factions. They said the requirement were made in line with the Paragraph 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
Earlier this week, the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena had written to the Commission seeking allocation of the party’s ‘bow and arrow’ election symbol to it, citing the recognition granted to them in the Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly. The Shiv Sena split last month when more than two-thirds of the party’s MLAs withdrew their support from the Maharashtra government led by Uddhav Thackeray, throwing their lot with Shinde. Shinde was sworn in as Maharashtra Chief Minister on June 30 with support of the BJP. On Tuesday last, at least 12 of the 18 Shiv Sena members in the Lok Sabha expressed ‘no confidence’ in floor leader Vinayak Raut and declared Rahul Shewale as their floor leader.
Lok Sabha Speaker recognised Shewale as the leader the same day. To ensure that neither faction is deprived of information, the poll panel has also directed exchange of documents submitted by the two groups over the past two days. “This is the initial step, checking may come much later,” explained a former EC official. The claim over the symbol assumes significance as the Supreme Court had on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra State Election Commission to notify elections to local bodies within two weeks. Elections are due in several civic bodies in Maharashtra, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which would indicate which Sena faction gets the popular support. Earlier, the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena had written to the EC, requesting it to hear its views before making any decision on representations for claims over the party name and its poll symbol.