Neither side should be given the advantage of the signs and symbols of the parent party in an election before its completion
The tussle between the rival factions of the Shiv Sena has resulted in the Election Commission of India on Saturday freezing the name, and the bow and arrow symbol of the party. The commission’s interim decision has come in response to a petition filed by the faction led by Maharahstra chief minister Eknath Shinde, which sought the allocation of the party’s symbol ahead of the Andheri East Assembly byelection scheduled on November 3.
The faction led by Uddhav Thackeray held it to be an unfair decision. It said that the EC has rushed into it before the byelection even though the other faction is not taking part in the polls. The commission has refuted his logic saying that its decision is “necessarily agnostic to the possibility of either of the factions participating in the poll” and that it will place both rival groups on an even keel to protect their interests and rights.
The commission is right when it says that it is going by precedent. It has already set in motion the process to decide which faction can be called the "real party" based on transparent parameters. Neither side should be given the advantage of the signs and symbols of the parent party in an election before its completion. It has also asked the respective factions to produce before it documents to prove their support base.
Starting from the Indian National Congress, several parties in India have lost their names and symbols after splits. It is usual for the poll body to impose a temporary freeze before it decides on the claims, a procedure that takes some time.
Cartoonist-turned politician Bal Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena in the 1960s as head of a nativist movement in the name of Maratha emperor Shivaji and raised hardline Hindutva slogans. The "bow and arrow" was not just an electoral symbol; it represented the manner in which the party wanted to advance the cause of the slogans it had raised. It will be interesting to see what unfolds if the party loses its signature name and symbol to an internecine fight.