Amid Battle for ‘Real Shiv Sena’ in SC, Shinde, Thackerays Race to Garner Maharashtra’s Support

Amid Battle for ‘Real Shiv Sena’ in SC, Shinde, Thackerays Race to Garner Maharashtra’s Support

As the legal battle for Shiv Sena’s party symbol reached the Supreme Court, both factions — one led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the other by Uddhav Thackeray — are apparently locked in a fight to garner support among people and party cadre in an apparent bid to support their claim.

Former minister Aaditya Thackeray traversed four districts — Thane, Nashik, Ahmednagar and Aurangabad — as part of his three-day ‘Shiv Sanvaad Yatra’ last week which is being seen as his first major outreach programme outside Mumbai to counter the Shinde camp and rally support for Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena scion will visit Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri in early August in the second phase of his Shiv Samvad Yatra, Hindustan Times reported, adding that Uddhav Thackeray is also expected to tour Maharashtra from mid-August.

In response to outreach programme of Thackerays, Shinde will embark on a 3-day tour on Friday and will go to districts visited by Aaditya last week. Shinde will kick off his statewide tour with Nashik district on July 30, and then move on to Aurangabad and Pune, according to Hindustan Times. During his official trip, Shinde will also address meetings in Assembly constituencies of rebel Shiv Sena legislators MLAs.

Ahead of Shinde’s tour, a banner with his photo was found torn on Friday in Vinchur town of Nashik.

Shinde, who had last month raised a banner of revolt against the Sena leadership leading to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, on Thursday called on veteran Shiv Sena leaders Manohar Joshi and Leeladhar Dake here to inquire about their health, PTI reported. Joshi, who is in his eighties, was the chief minister during the first Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state in 1995-99, while Dake was a minister in that dispensation.

The visits of leaders from both factions to Aurangabad come as the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) elections are due. The Shinde-led Shiv Sena group and the BJP will contest the AMC polls in alliance, a rebel faction functionary said on Thursday, according to PTI.

Notably, the Uddhav Thackeray government had decided to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar in its last cabinet meeting on June 29 this year. The new government led by CM Shinde earlier this month passed a fresh proposal that will see Marathwada’s biggest city being called Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar’, as per PTI.

Earlier this week, the Uddhav Thackeray faction knocked the doors of the Supreme Court alleging that its leaders Vinayak Raut and Rajan Vichare have been “illegally, arbitrarily, and unilaterally” removed by the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla as a leader of the party in House and chief whip respectively.

Moreover, the Uddhav camp has challenged the appointment of Rahul Shivale as the Leader of the Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha from July 18 “at the behest of certain delinquent MPs who are guilty of anti-party activities”. CNN-News18 has accessed a copy of the fresh plea filed before the apex court by MPs Raut and Vichare.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on August 1 a fresh plea by the Uddhav faction against Election Commission proceedings on a petition by the Eknath Shinde-led group for recognition as the “real” Shiv Sena.

The top court said it would tag the fresh petition and hear it together with pending ones on August 1. The ECI recently asked the both factions to submit documents by August 8 in support of their claims on the election symbol of the political party.

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