Yet to recover from the severe jolt delivered by Eknath Shinde, Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena finds itself in another political turmoil. Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray, now known as Shiv Sena (UBT) has sought permission from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct an internal election to elect a new party chief as Uddhav’s tenure will come to an end on January 23.
While ECI is yet to respond to Uddhav’s request, BSS-led by Eknath Shinde, has already challenged the validity of Uddhav’s appointment as Shiv Sena party chief in 2018 during the hearing before ECI on January 10. The BSS is in an attempt to prove that Thackeray’s appointments as chief whip in Assembly and Lok Sabha were not legal. Sources in Shinde camp said that they were seriously contemplating filing an objection with ECI on Uddhav’s demand. Shinde group has been claiming that theirs was the real Shiv Sena.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Anil Desai confirmed with media persons that they had sought permission from ECI to conduct the internal elections. He said “Uddhav Thackeray was re-elected as party chief for the second time on January 23, 2018. His five-year term will come to an end and we have sought permission from ECI to allow us to conduct an executive body meeting of the organisation and election process to elect the party chief.”
Uddhav was working president till his father and founder of Shiv Sena Bal Thackeray, was alive. He was elected as Paksha Pramukh following Bal Thackeray’s death in 2013. His first tenure came to an end in 2018, and he was re-elected to the post. Uddhav’s second tenure will be over on January 23 this year.
Uddhav Thackeray-led group is anxiously waiting for ECI’s response as they fear that Uddhav’s formal position in the party will be seized automatically after January 23. They fear that the situation may not merely create serious difficulties in running the party but will also erode Uddhav’s position and authority among the party cadre.
Shinde camp, on the other hand, is looking at the development as an opportunity to strengthen its position in a legal battle against the Uddhav faction. Uddhav camp argues that all the leaders, MPs and MLAs, including Eknath Shinde, were given election tickets by a letter signed by Uddhav Thackeray, and nobody raised any objection at that time.
While both the camps are waiting for the ECI decision, restlessness can be seen in the Uddhav camp as it had urged ECI not to conduct any hearing till Supreme Court takes any decision on the pending cases. Uddhav camp is upset as ECI has frozen party symbols and names, which is seen as a temporary success for the Shinde camp. ECI has allotted both factions temporary names. Secondly, SC hearing on a bunch of cases is happening slower than expected. Uddhav camp has described the Shinde Government as unconstitutional, but SC has not given any interim order over the issue.
Eknath Shinde led a group of 40 Shiv MLAs who rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray and pulled down the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government led by him and with NCP and Congress as coalition partners. Their main contention was that Uddhav has distanced himself from Balasahb Thackeray’s Hindutva policy by joining hands with Congress and NCP. As many as 12 MPs out of 19 also joined Eknath Shinde. Later, Shinde formed the government with BJP help.