Eknath Shinde is planning to use the Shiv Sena’s election symbol, according to News18. Could Thackerays “Bow & Arrow” Be Lost?

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With three additional MLAs departing for Assam to join the rebel group led by Maharashtra legislator Eknath Shinde, who has so far claimed the backing of more than 40 lawmakers and some Independents, the likelihood of a vertical split in the Shiv Sena appears to be increasing.

By replacing the chief whip of the Shiv Sena legislative party with a letter signed by 35 Sena MLAs, Shinde has even upped the ante in his fight against the Thackerays.

After making an emotional appeal to Shiv Sena dissidents and proposing to resign, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray left his official residence on Wednesday night, stunned by the revolt’s flag. Thackeray hasn’t reacted well to Shinde’s insistence that the party end its “unnatural” partnership with the Congress and NCP, but Shinde is still adamant about it.

The Eknath Shinde camp is reportedly getting ready to assert its ownership of the Shiv Sena’s “bow and arrow” emblem. According to sources speaking to the media on Thursday, the group is requesting the use of the party’s insignia with the backing of 41 MLAs.

THE 1968 ORDER ON SYMBOLS
The election body’s authority to recognise parties and assign symbols is covered by the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. In accordance with Paragraph 15 of the order, the EC may rule in favour of either of the fighting factions—or neither—if they are members of the same legally recognised political party.

“When the Commission is satisfied… that there are competing sections or groups of a recognised political party, each of which claims to be that party, the Commission may, after considering all the relevant facts and circumstances and hearing (their) representatives… and other persons as desire to be heard, decide that one such competing section or group or none of such competing sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission.”

The dispute over Indira Gandhi’s presidential candidate that arose in the Congress the following year was the first issue to be adjudicated under the 1968 ordinance. While Prime Minister Indira Gandhi urged Vice-President VV Giri to run as an Independent, disobeying a whip issued by party president Nijalingappa, the anti-Indira faction known as the Syndicate recommended Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy’s candidacy.

The Congress was split into Congress (O) led by Nijalingappa and Congress (J) led by Indira Gandhi after Giri’s victory and Indira Gandhi’s expulsion from the party. While the latter received the sign of a cow and her calf, the former kept the party’s previous emblem, which was a pair of bullocks pulling a yoke.

DETERMINING FACTORS FOR THE EC
In the event of a disagreement, the Election Commission largely assesses the level of support each side receives from both the party’s structure and its legislative branch.

It then determines which faction is supported by the majority of the political party’s members or office holders after identifying the key committees and decision-making bodies inside the organisation. The number of lawmakers and legislators in each faction is then calculated.

Most recently, the election body has relied on the selection of elected officials and party office holders. It has only relied on the majority of the party’s MPs and MLAs if, for whatever reason, it is unable to quantify the support inside the organisation.

The AIADMK split in 1987 following the passing of MG Ramachandran was the only time the Election Commission had trouble. The majority of the party’s MLAs and MPs supported MGR’s wife Janaki, but his protégé J Jayalalithaa received support from the vast majority of the party’s cadre and members. When the opposing factions came to an agreement, the EC was spared from having to make a choice.

DECISIONS UPON THE EC
After evaluating the support for each group in the organisational and legislative wings, the Election Commission may decide in favour of one of the factions. It can enable the opposing force to register as a brand-new political party with a distinctive insignia.

If the EC cannot decide which faction will prevail, it may freeze the party’s symbol and request that the combatants register under new names and symbols.

The Election Commission might freeze the party symbol and invite the factions to choose a temporary emblem in case elections are imminent because the process to identify a winner can take some time.

In either of these scenarios, the EC has the authority to determine whether to approve the merger and might choose to give the merged party’s original emblem back if the factions later decide to come together and ask for it.

CURRENT DISPUTES RELATING TO PARTY SYMBOLS
The Election Commission prohibited the Chirag Paswan and Pashupati Kumar Paras factions from using the name of the Lok Janshakti Party or its emblem, the “bungalow,” until the conflict between the opposing groups was resolved.

The election authority permitted the Chirag Paswan group to run for office under the name “Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas)” and use the word “helicopter” as its emblem because the byelections for the Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur Assembly seats in Bihar were scheduled for October 30. It gave the Paras camp the name “Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party” and the “sewing machine” symbol.

AIADMK: The EC froze the AIADMK’s “two leaves” insignia in March 2017 as a result of claims made by the two factions commanded by O Panneerselvam and VK Sasikala. Later, the OPS faction merged with the Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s camp to rebel against Sasikala, who was imprisoned in a corruption case.

The combined OPS-EPS group, which is in charge of both the organisation and the legislative wing, was awarded the symbol in November 2017. Ironically, the party is currently experiencing similar divisions between the two leaders.

Samajwadi Party: In 2017, after Akhilesh Yadav took over from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then-ruling party of Uttar Pradesh had a nasty schism. The Yadav clan was split in two after Akhilesh was chosen as the party’s national president.

Mulayam approached the EC and stated that as he is still the party’s president, his faction should continue to use the electoral emblem. The Akhilesh camp disputed this, submitting testimonies from numerous party office holders, MPs, MLAs, and district presidents to assert that the majority supported the then-CM.

Under the Symbols Order, the EC heard arguments from both sides. The Akhilesh camp asserted during the nearly five-hour session that it had the support of the majority of MPs, MLAs, MLCs, and delegates. On the other side, the Mulayam group insisted that there is no disagreement within the party.

The side led by Akhilesh Yadav received the cycle emblem from the election authority on January 16.