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From 'bow and arrow' to 'mashaal': Shiv Sena's changing poll symbols

October 11, 2022 17:00 IST

As the 'flaming torch' (mashaal) symbol turns over a new leaf for the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of Shiv Sena, it is not something new for the party as it had contested an election successfully using it in 1985.

IMAGE: Flaming torch, new poll symbol of Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of Shiv Sena. Photograph: @ShivSena/Twitter

Senior politician Chhagan Bhujbal, who was then in the Shiv Sena, had won the election from Mazgaon constituency in Mumbai on the 'flaming torch' symbol when the organisation did not have a fixed poll symbol.

Bhujbal later rebelled and quit the party to join the Congress and is now a prominent leader of the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party.

The 'flaming torch' symbol was used by the Sena in the past during civic body and assembly polls.

The Shiv Sena was founded by Bal Thackeray in 1966 and it took 23 years for the party to get the dedicated 'bow and arrow' symbol.

The Sena was recognised as the state party in 1989, which meant it could use a uniform symbol in the state.

But earlier, from 1966 to 1989, it contested on different symbols in the Lok Sabha, assembly and civic polls.


After nearly 33 years, the Election Commission last week froze its 'bow and arrow' symbol for an interim period following a feud between the two Sena factions --- one led by Uddhav Thackeray and the other by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

It also asked the two sides not to use the name 'Shiv Sena'.

The EC on Monday allotted 'ShivSena - Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray' as the party name for the Thackeray faction, and 'Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena' (Balasaheb's Shiv Sena) as the name for the Eknath Shinde group of the party.

Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar, who has been with the party since its inception, said the organisation in 1967-68 first contested the civic body polls, including Mumbai, when most of its candidates got the 'sword and shield' symbol.

In 1985, many party candidates got 'flaming torch' as the symbol, he said.

Yogendra Thakur, who has authored several books on the Shiv Sena and its founder Bal Thackeray, in an article in the July 23 issue of Marmik magazine, said senior party leader Madhukar Sarpotdar contested the 1985 assembly poll from the Kherwadi seat in northwest Mumbai on the 'flaming torch' symbol.

Bal Thackeray had campaigned for him. At that time, a flaming torch was placed on the left side of the stage to convey the message to voters about the party symbol, Thakur said.

Marmik, a magazine dedicated to cartoons, was edited by Bal Thackeray and his brother Shrikant in 1960s, when the Sena founder through his caricatures portrayed what he called as "injustice" against the 'Marathi manoos'.

In the 1985 Maharashtra assembly polls, while some candidates contested on the 'flaming torch' symbol, the others contested on the 'bat', 'sun' and 'cup and saucer' symbols, Kirtikar said.

Chhagan Bhujbal was one of the candidates elected on the 'flaming torch' symbol.

In October 1970, during a bypoll in Mumbai, necessitated due to the death of Communist leader Krishna Desai, Wamanrao Mahadik contested on the 'rising sun' symbol and won, Kirtikar said.

Explaining the history behind the Shiv Sena's symbols, Yogendra Thakur said in 1988, the Election Commission of India decided that all political parties need to be registered.

Bal Thackeray then decided the Shiv Sena should also be registered.

A panel comprising Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai, advocate Balkrishna Joshi and Vijay Nadkarni was formed to prepare a constitution for the party with Manohar Joshi's guidance.

Bal Thackeray suggested some changes in the draft and after necessary amendments, the team went to Delhi to present its case before the election body.

They submitted all the necessary documents and the party was registered.

This had also helped the Shiv Sena get the 'bow and arrow' symbol on which it contested the subsequent elections, Thakur said.

“Till that time, the Shiv Sena contested polls on different symbols,” he added.

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