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The Hindu
The Hindu
Shoumojit Banerjee

Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena gives three choices for poll symbol — trident, rising sun or burning torch

A day after the Election Commission (EC) froze the use of the Shiv Sena’s bow-and-arrow symbol amid the bitter factional struggle between the rival Sena groups led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, Mr. Thackeray on Sunday said the EC’s decision was “unexpected” and “an injustice”.

Taking to Facebook to give a live address to Maharashtra’s public, Mr. Thackeray informed that his faction had submitted three alternative symbols and party names to the poll body, while urging the EC to swiftly grant his group an interim party symbol and name before the upcoming Andheri East Assembly bypoll.

Also read | Eknath Shinde, Uddhav Thackeray factions of Shiv Sena prepared to fight byeelection with new symbols, names

The Thackeray faction has submitted three alternative party names to the poll body: ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thackeray’, ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb Prabhodankar (Uddhav’s grandfather) Thackeray’ and the ‘Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray.’

It has also suggested a trishul (trident), a mashaal (torch) and the ‘rising sun’ to the EC as alternatives for a new party symbol, said Uddhav Thackeray.

Lashing out at the Shinde-led Sena faction and the ruling BJP, Mr. Thackeray warned that latter would throw the Shinde group once it had served its purpose.

“The party symbol is already frozen. Now, what else remains? The confusion they [BJP] wanted to sow in our ranks has already been carried out,” he said.

Challenging the Shinde group’s use of his father’s (Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s) name in their new faction’s name, Mr. Thackeray said: “I dare you [Shinde camp] to come before the public by not using Balasaheb’ s name. Why don’t you start your own party or merge with the BJP? Today, you still need the Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray, but not his son [Uddhav].”

Reserving his bitterest criticism for the BJP, the Sena president said that while the BJP today accused him of forsaking ‘Hindutva’ by allying with the Congress, the Congress had never thought of banning the Sena in the past when they were in power.

“State leaders had urged Indira Gandhi to ban the Sena, but she did not do so. But today, the BJP’s intentions are clear and they are out to finish off the Sena. They trouble ordinary Shiv Sainiks who, by their toil, had helped the BJP grow in Maharashtra. What kind of Hindutva is this?”

Also read | Post-split, Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll a litmus test for Uddhav 

Mr. Thackeray said that despite the freezing of the symbol, he was not perturbed and remarked that he would stand firm.

Earlier, in a video conference with his faction’s district chiefs, Mr. Thackeray had claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reportedly approached him before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls for an alliance as the PM’s image had taken a beating after the implementation of demonetisation.

“They [the BJP] know that they have no other option besides using Balasaheb Thackeray’s name in Maharashtra. Hence, they are trying to finish us off,” Mr. Thackeray said.

Thackeray camp loyalist MP Arvind Sawant meanwhile said that his faction will never forsake its claim over the bow and arrow symbol.

“That symbol is rightfully ours,” Mr. Sawant said, while accusing the EC of acting under BJP pressure.

Incidentally, the Sena had contested local and Assembly elections on several symbols like the sword and the shield and the railway engine in the past before being registered for the iconic bow and arrow symbol in 1989.

Meanwhile, terming the EC’s decision “unsurprising”, BJP leader and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that whenever factional disputes had arisen within political parties in the past 20-25 years, the EC, as an interim measure, had always frozen the party symbol before giving its final decision.

“When the EC announces its final decision, I have full faith it will consider CM Shinde’s claim to the bow and arrow symbol,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

In a riposte to Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Fadnavis said that the Sena had managed to get 18 MPs and 56 MLAs in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls only by seeking votes on Mr. Modi’s name.

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