Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Gulabrao Patil on Wednesday said the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was the real claimant of the party's 'bow and arrow' poll symbol, a claim contested by the Uddhav Thackeray-headed camp of the saffron outfit.
Patil, a minister in the previous Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, also said 12 MPs and 22 former MLAs of the party are supporting Shinde.
"We are the real claimant of the party's bow and arrow symbol," he said.
Lok Sabha MP from Sindhudurg Vinayak Raut, a member of the Thackeray-headed camp, challenged the rebels to declare that they have quit the Shiv Sena and dared the Bharatiya Janata Party to call mid-term elections in the state.
"The rebels have no right to claim the party symbol which was created by our father (Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray, " he asserted.
"We are ready for mid-term polls. The BJP should end political uncertainty in the state and call mid-term elections," Raut said.
The Sena faction led by Shinde joined hands with the BJP to form a new government in the state last week following the collapse of the MVA dispensation.
Earlier in the day, talking to reporters in his constituency in Jalgaon district, Patil claimed 12 out of 18 Sena MPs would soon join the Shinde-led faction.
The former minister said the Shinde faction will restore the 56-year-old regional party's glory.
“We (rebel camp) have 40 out of the 55 MLAs with us, and 12 out of 18 MPs are coming with us. So who does the party belong to? I have met four MPs personally. We also have 22 former MLAs with us,” he said.
Both Thackeray loyalists and the Shinde faction have claimed their respective group represents the original Shiv Sena.