Five days after the Election Commission of India (ECI) accorded recognition to the breakaway Shiv Sena group, its leader and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was anointed as the 'Mukhya Neta' (Chief Leader) -- making it a first when a non-Thackeray entity commands the party's fortunes.
Shinde presided over his party's first-ever national executive in Mumbai late on Tuesday, soon after the faction led by former Chief Minister 'Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT) challenged the ECI move in the Supreme Court, with the hearing scheduled Wednesday (February 22).
At the meeting, the Shiv Sena leaders, MPs, MLAs and others unanimously authorised Shinde with the right to take all decisions on the behalf of the party, Industry Minister Uday Samant later told mediapersons.
The new 'Sena-pati' Shinde also informed the national executive that they would not stake a claim to the iconic Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar, spelling some relief to the Thackeray side.
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The Shiv Sena Bhavan is near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park where the Shiv Sena was born in a modest way in 1966, the building was constructed in 1974 and is owned by the family trust of the Thackerays.
However, the party would demand a Bharat Ratna for the Hindutva icon Swatantryaveer Vinayak D. Savarkar, renaming Churchgate station on Western Railway after the legendary economist, former Union minister and first Indian Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Sir C.D. Deshmukh.
The party will also seek the inclusion of icons like Veermata Jijabai, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, and Rani Ahilyabai Holkar in the list of 'national personalities'.
Earlier, prior to the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the Sena led by Thackeray had also sought Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar in its election manifesto.
However, after elections, the party joined the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance comprising Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, with Thackeray as the Chief Minister, but the MVA government was toppled after the Shinde-led rebellion in June 2022.
As the two factions squabbled, the ECI last week recognised the Shinde group and awarded it the original 'Shiv Sena' name and its famous 'Bow-and-Arrow' symbol, as the Thackeray side fumed, with most leaders calling it 'theft'.
Soon after the ECI move, the enraged former CM said that "they may steal everything, the party name, poll symbols, its leaders, MPs, MLAs, etc., but the 'thieves' could never rob the magical 'Thackeray' name", preparing for a legal fight.