The Election Commission’s decision to freeze the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol of the Shiv Sena has been met with disappointment of members of the Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray factions and strong responses from other quarters. In an interim order, the poll body had said the election symbol would be frozen amid widening rifts between the members of both the teams. It also comes just weeks before a crucial by poll in Andheri East in Mumbai.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal – reacting to the interim order – wrote in a tweet on Sunday: “Election Commission freezes Sena Election symbol. Amounts to “freezing” democracy. The “bow and arrow” belongs to the real Shiv Sena led by Udhav. The “Defectors Platter” for serving the BJP belongs to Shinde’s faction. (sic)”

The Congress was a part of the Uddhav Thackeray Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, which collapsed in June after Shinde switched loyalties to the BJP and was later sworn in as the chief minister. His revolt had also split the Shiv Sena with dozens of legislators following his lead.

Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar’s NCP – also a constituent of the MVA alliance – also responded to the order, saying it was “surprising”.

“The Eknath Shinde-led (Sena) camp is not even contesting the by-election, still the use of the party name and symbol was restricted. The freezing of the symbol does not mean the (Thackeray-led) Sena workers have become weak or are demoralised. The Shiv Sena (Thackeray faction) along with the NCP and Congress will give a tough fight to the BJP,” NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The November 3 Andheri East assembly seat was announced after the death of incumbent Sena MLA Ramesh Latke. The Congress and the NCP are backing his wife Rujuta Latke, the candidate of the Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has asked both the Sena factions to give alternate names

(With inputs from PTI)

By Shadab

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