NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has recognised Eknath Shinde faction as the real Shiv Sena and granted it 'bow and arrow' in a major jolt to Uddhav Thackeray group of the party in Maharashtra.
In its final order, the Commission said the party name Shiv Sena and symbol would be retained by Shinde, present Chief Minister of the state, in exercise of its power under Article 324 of the Constitution and Symbols Order, 1968.
It applied three tests majority in legislative wing, organisational wing and the party constitution.
The poll panel noted, the majority test in the legislative wing clearly reflects “qualitative superiority” in favour of petitioner (Shinde).
It also pointed out the Rashtriya Karyakarini is the apex body of the party which was elected by a directly appointed Pratinidhi Sabha. Neither wing provided details of its strength. The organisational wing could not yield determinable finding, EC said.
With regard to the party constitution, the EC said that the 2018 amendment to the party's constitution was not given to it. The amendments had undone the introduction of democratic norms in the party in 1999 at its insistence.
Following the development, Uddhav Thackeray said he will move the Supreme Court against the EC order. Shinde called it as a “victory of the people”.
Shinde along with chunk of party legislators broke away from Thackeray as he had joined hands with rival NCP and Congress to be Chief Minister of the state. Shiv Sena was the oldest ally of the BJP and fought the last Assembly election in alliance.
The Commission, in its decision, rejected Thackeray faction's contention that the plea filed before the EC was not maintainable, in view of pendency of issues related to disqualification.
"The jurisdiction of the Commission in deciding disputes is separate and independent from that of the jurisdiction of the Speaker with respect of disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule and does not overlap," it said.
The Commission also said split had occurred in Shiv Sena and majority of part members were with Shinde.
It pointed out the outcome of the majority test in legislative wing clearly reflects qualitative superiority of the majority test in favour of petitioner. The 40 MLAs, supporting Petitioner, garnered 36,57327 votes out of total of 47,82440 votes i.e -76% of votes polled in favor of 55 wining MLAs in the general election to the Legislative Assembly, 2019. This contrasts with 11,25113 votes garnered by 15 MLAs whose support is claimed by the Respondents i.e- 23.5% of votes polled in favor of winning 55 MLAs.
Further, as against 90,49,789, total votes polled by Shiv Sena in General election to the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra in 2019 (including the loosing candidates), votes polled by 40 MLAS supporting the petitioner come to ~40% whereas votes polled by 15 MLAs supporting the Respondents come to -12% of total votes polled by Candidates contesting on symbol of the party in 2019 general election to the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra.
Similarly, the 13 MPs supporting petitioner garnered 74,88,634 votes out of total of 1,02,45143 votes i.e -73% of votes polled in favor of 18 MPs in general election to the Lok Sabha ,2019. This contrasts with 27,56,509 votes garnered by 5 MPs supporting Respondents (although claimed 6 and affidavits filed by only 4) i.e 27% of votes polled in favor of 18 MPs. Further, as against 1,25,89064, the total votes polled by Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha election, 2019 (including the loosing candidates), votes polled by 13 MPs supporting the petitioner comes to ~59 % whereas votes polled by 5 MPs (claimed 6 whereas affidavits of only 4) supporting the Respondents comes to -22%.
In its order, the Commission also directed Shinde to amend the 2018- Constitution of the party in line with section 29 A of the RP Act, 1951 and extant guidelines issued by the Commission on registration of political parties inter-alia conforming to internal democracy;
However, the Commission, in view of the ongoing by-elections for 205- Chinchwad, and 215- Kasba Peth of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, allowed Thackeray faction which was allotted the name of "Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)" and symbol of "Flaming Torch" as per the interim order of October 10, 22 to retain the said name and the symbol till completion of the said by-elections.
The Commission's order was signed by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel.