EC asks Thackeray to respond to Shinde faction’s claim on Shiv Sena poll symbol

New Delhi, Oct 7: The Election Commission has asked the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena to respond by Saturday on rival Eknath Shinde group’s claim on the party’s ‘bow and arrow’ election symbol in view of the upcoming assembly bypoll in the state.

The Commission’s directive came on Friday after the Shinde faction submitted a memorandum seeking it be allocated the symbol as the Andheri East assembly bypoll is approaching.

In a letter to Thackeray, the Commission directed it to furnish comments along with requisite documents latest by 2 pm on October 8.

“In case no reply is received, the Commission will take appropriate action in the matter accordingly,” the Commission said.

The Commission told Thackeray the Shinde faction had staked claim to the ‘bow and arrow’ on October 4. The Andheri East bypoll was notified on Friday.

Shiv Sena leader Anil Desai, who belongs to the Thackeray faction, said the party would respond to the Commission within the stipulated time.

Desai met Commission officials earlier on Friday to submit documents in connection with a separate matter where the Shinde faction had claimed to be the “real Shiv Sena”, citing support of majority members of the Lok Sabha and the state assembly.

The fresh claim to the ‘bow and arrow’ election symbol by the Shinde faction is seen as an attempt to deny its use by the Thackeray group which has decided to field Rutuja Latke, the widow of MLA Ramesh Latke, for the November 3 bypoll.

The BJP, an ally of the Shinde faction, has decided to field Murji Patel, a corporator in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, for the bypoll necessitated due to the death of Ramesh Latke.

The Congress and the NCP have decided to support the candidate of the Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, their coalition partner in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

Shinde had raised a banner of revolt against Thackeray for entering into an “unnatural alliance” with the Congress and NCP. Over 40 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs had supported Shinde, forcing the resignation of Thackeray from the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

Twelve of the 18 Lok Sabha members of the Shiv Sena also came out in support of Shinde, who later claimed to be the leader of the original Shiv Sena.

The Andheri East bypoll is the first after Shinde and the BJP unseated the MVA government in June, and is considered by political analysts as a precursor to settling of claims by Shinde and Thackeray to be the “real Shiv Sena”. (PTI)