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Eknath Shinde camp writes to Election Commission, asks to be recognised as the real Shiv Sena

Move comes a day after the group dissolved the Shiv Sena’s national executive and made new appointments, with Maharashtra CM Shinde as the chief leader.

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Mumbai: The rebel group of the Shiv Sena under Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s leadership has approached the Election Commission (EC), asking for their faction to be identified as the ‘Shiv Sena’, ThePrint has learnt. 

The move came hours after 12 of the Shiv Sena’s 19 MPs pledged their allegiance to the Shinde camp and wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Tuesday, saying they are changing their group leader to Rahul Shewale, with Bhavana Gawali as the chief whip.

A senior MLA from the Shinde camp, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint: “Shinde sir met officials from the EC in Delhi Tuesday evening. He handed over the letter on behalf of the group. The letter says something on the lines of how we have a majority of Shiv Sena’s MLAs and MPs, we have a national executive in place, so we should be given recognition as the official Shiv Sena.”

On Monday, the Shinde group dissolved the Shiv Sena’s existing national executive and made new appointments with Shinde as the chief leader. The group, however, did not appoint anyone as party president in line with their argument until now — that they are the real Shiv Sena and still consider former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray as their leader. 

An EC official who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint, “The letter was received late last night. It is being processed for due details.”

Also Read: Uddhav ‘wanted patch-up with BJP, said he spoke to Modi about alliance in 2021’ — rebel Sena MP

Parent party vs faction: The EC’s powers

According to the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, the EC can rule in favour of a party’s breakaway faction and allow or disallow it to take on the party symbol after taking into account “all available facts and circumstances of the case and hearing such representatives of the sections or groups and other persons as desire to be heard”. It can also give a ruling in favour of neither the parent party nor the breakaway faction. 

“The decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rivals or groups,” the order further says.

Earlier this month, the Thackeray-led Sena wrote to the EC, asking it to give them a hearing regarding the party’s symbol before considering any requests by the Shinde camp. 

Last month, a group of Shiv Sena MLAs under Shinde’s leadership rebelled against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray as CM, causing the government to fall. The MVA government comprised the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. 

Eventually, Shinde formed a government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the support of 39 of the 55 Sena legislators in the Maharashtra assembly. 

The Thackeray-led Sena not only issued disqualification notices to the rebel MLAs, but also ousted Shinde and a few other senior party leaders such as Ramdas Kadam and Anandrao Adsul who joined the Shinde camp.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: ‘Naradmuni, Shukracharya’ — 1 in 3 Shiv Sena rebels blames Sanjay Raut for split


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