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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Confusion over Sena (UBT) symbol among city voters

Updated on: 22 April,2024 07:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Eshan Kalyanikar |

Karyakartas say many unaware flaming torch symbolises Thackeray faction, fear this could work in rival’s favour

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Confusion over Sena (UBT) symbol among city voters

Anil Desai, the Sena (UBT)’s Mumbai South Central candidate, at a recent rally in Pratiksha Nagar

A month before the elections, Mumbai South Central’s Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Anil Desai’s door-to-door campaign carried out by party cadre is unable to reach as many voters amidst confusion over the party symbol. Prior to the Sena split, the undivided party’s symbol held a very clear and permanent space in the minds of its loyal voters. As noted by Vishaka Raut, karyakarta of Sena (UBT) women’s wing in Pratiksha Nagar, “Whenever we went for door-to-door campaigns, people used to tell us beforehand that they know our party symbol is the bow and arrow.”

Sanjay Mhatre, shakha pramukh
Sanjay Mhatre, shakha pramukh

Raut has visited some houses this time around too; people told her the symbol is the bow and arrow, and she corrected them, saying it has changed to the mashal or flaming torch. After the rebellion in Sena led by Eknath Shinde in June 2022—during which he replaced Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister—the conflict between the Shinde and Thackeray factions revolved around securing control of the party name and symbol.

The two had temporarily adopted new symbols as the Election Commission was to decide who got to keep the party name and its original symbol; two swords and shield was the one the Shinde faction chose while the flaming torch was of the Thackeray faction’s. It was only last year that the Election Commission allotted the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and bow and arrow symbol to the Shinde faction.

Even as there is still a lack of widespread awareness about the Thackeray faction’s new symbol, those like Raut have not been involved in door-to-door campaigns for the past few days. The shakha pramukh in the area, Sanjay Mhatre, said, “Right now, it is a little slow, but proper door-to-door campaigns will start once the candidate files his nomination. Late next week, we can expect it to be in full swing.”

Another shakha pramukh in Dharavi, Vithal Pawar, said, “In our area, we started door-to-door campaigns a few days ago, but we are yet to receive pamphlets to distribute. Next Sunday, the candidate [Anil Desai] is scheduled to be in the area the entire day, so before that, we will be increasing our outreach,” Pawar said. Desai has been doing short evening padyatras in his constituency, there has also been a display of unity with allies in the meeting held at the Savarkar memorial at Shivaji Park on Thursday.

During his rounds, as Desai walks, his party cadre walks behind him, shouting: “Gaddarala sanga mashal, zor se bolo mashal [Tell traitors, torch! Say it loudly, the torch!]”, reminding people about his party’s symbol. Visits to the areas in his constituency such as Anushakti Nagar, Chembur, Dharavi, Sion Koliwada, Wadala and Mahim have been taking place since earlier this month. The last one was on Friday in Chembur.

This has also been the case with his opponent, the incumbent MP Rahul Shewale (Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde), who is not limited to making rounds in his constituency. Shewale also visited the Ram temple in Ayodhya on Ram Navami, the first time since its inauguration, to “bring Ram’s dhanushban [bow and arrow] to Bal Thackray’s memorial.” He mentioned dhanushban, the party symbol of the undivided Shiv Sena, awarded to the Shinde faction umpteen times in press interactions.

Meanwhile, Mhatre added that the door-to-door campaign in Sion Koliwada came to a complete halt on Ram Navami. “People were celebrating in the area, so nobody went,” he said, even as he expressed fears that the confusion amongst voters might work in favour of the Shinde faction.

Year Shiv Sena split occurred

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