The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday, 17 February, ordered that the party name 'Shiv Sena' and the party symbol 'bow and arrow' will be retained by the Eknath Shinde faction, thus recognising it as the 'real' Shiv Sena.
The commission also stated that the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction should retain the interim party name Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the party symbol flaming torch.
This decision is a major victory for the Shinde camp and a great setback for the Thackeray faction.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde welcomed the decision calling it the victory of democracy.
"It is the victory of ideologies of Balasaheb and Anand Dighe, of our workers, MPs, MLAs, public representatives and lakhs of Shiv Sainiks," he told media persons.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut, on the other hand, slammed the order, taking to Twitter to express his displeasure.
"The Election Commission has trampled on truth and justice. Forty clowns lay their claim on Balasaheb's Shiv Sena and the commission approves it. This script had already been written and kept ready. This country is going towards authoritarian rule. The traitors were saying the decision will be in their favour. This is the miracle of the boxes. Will keep fighting," he tweeted.
"We don't need to worry. Public is with us. We'll go with a new symbol and raise this Shiv Sena once again in the court of public," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Earlier, the ECI had frozen the Shiv Sena's bow and arrow symbol and temporarily forbidden both Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions to use the party name.
In October 2022, the ECI had announced that the Uddhav Thackeray faction would be known as 'Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray,' with its new party symbol as the 'flaming torch,' while the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde would be called 'Balasahebachi Shiv Sena' (Balasaheb's Shiv Sena).
The split in the original Shiv Sena began in June 2022 when Shinde led 48 MLAs in a Bharatiya Janata Party-backed coup against the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, bringing down his coalition government.
Source: The Quint