It looks like Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and his group of MLAs are on the verge of successfully charting out their rebellion from the Shiv Sena. In a new development, the Shinde camp is moving forward to claim a stake on the Shiv Sena election symbol itself, News 18 reported.
In a huge setback to Uddhav Thackeray, the rebel Shinde group has asserted that it is the real Shiv Sena. Eknath Shinde, who officially had 34 Shiv Sena MLAs backing him, has increased his support base with four more MLAs reaching Guwahati on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, three more Sena MLAs reached the Radisson Blu Hotel in Guwahati where the Shinde camp is stationed.
“Thirty-nine MLAs accompanied me. We are loyal to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of ‘Hindutva’ and we are keen to take it forward,” Eknath Shinde had said.
Shinde said now he has the support of 46 MLAs, including 6-7 independents.
CM Uddhav Thackeray yesterday, conceded defeat in his Facebook Live address and said that he is ready to resign as the CM given his party workers say so. However, he has not tendered his resignation as of now.
What happens when a faction claims the party symbol?
The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the Election Commission to officially recognize political parties and allot them election symbols. During a split within the party, The EC primarily takes into consideration the support enjoyed by the claimant faction within a political party among its elected representatives and the organisation.
The Election Commission has the power under Paragraph 15 of the Order, to decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol. If the Shinde camp claims the symbol of the party and has the required numbers to prove its stature, it would be upon the Election Commission to recognise the rebel group as the official Shiv Sena or not.
Could the Anti-defection law be attracted against Eknath Shinde?
The Anti-defection law attempts to control and limit the defection of elected representatives from their original party. It however permits legislators or elected representatives to join another political outfit under certain conditions. Paragraph 4 of the law categorically states that disqualification of elected members would not account if a merger with a new political party happens with 2/3rd of the members from the original party.
Given that Shiv Sena has 55 members in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Eknath Shinde needs the support of 2/3rd MLAs of his party i.e. in total 37 MLAs backing him to avoid being penalised under the anti-defection law. With Shinde claiming that he has the support of 46 MLAs, including 6-7 independents, anti-defection law could not be attracted against him – provided he has more than 37 Shiv Sena MLAs backing him. If his claims of 39 MLAs supporting him is true, Shinde may just avoid the anti-defection law and manage to stake a claim on the party symbol.
With more and more Sena MLAs deflecting to the Shinde camp in Guwahati, the rebel group has at least 41 members excluding the Independents. With the help of these Shiv Sena MLAs and independents, it can bring down the MVA government and form an alliance of its own, possibly with the BJP. However, future developments will chart the course of whether Eknath Shinde, the self-proclaimed upholder of Hindutva will also uphold the ‘bow-and-arrow’.