On the ground, a Sena struggle for both offices and legacy.

Monday, the conflict between the Shiv Sena and the Uddhav group went from the Election Commission to the Maharashtra legislative assembly and the BMC.

Bharat Gogawale, backed by Eknath Shinde-aligned MLAs, met with speaker Rahul Narwekar on Monday morning and assumed control of the Shiv Sena party headquarters. It belonged to the Uddhav Thackeray group till Friday.

“Because the ECI has acknowledged us as the Shiv Sena, this office is now ours,” he informed the journalists.

The Election Commission assigned the party name and the arrowhead symbol to the faction led by Maharashtra’s chief minister Eknath Shinde on February 17. ECI argued that the Shiv Sena party’s constitution was undemocratic and had been “mutilated to undemocratically designate members from a coterie as office bearers without any election whatsoever.” Uddhav Thackeray has challenged the ECI’s ruling in the Supreme Court, calling it a “crime against democracy.”

On the ground, the animosity between the two camps is now obvious. Afraid that Shinde’s men might also seize control of the party’s office at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Council, former corporators from Uddhav Thackeray’s faction, led by former mayor Vishakha Raut, rushed to the civic headquarters.

The Mumbai police, anticipating a confrontation, provided extensive protection. “We have been camping at this location since the morning. The Shinde camp is powerless now that the BMC is administered by an administrator, according to former corporator Sachin Padwal. In December of last year, the two factions nearly came to blows when Shinde supporters attempted to seize Shiv Sena’s office in the municipal headquarters by meeting with municipal commissioner IS Chahal. Ultimately, police were summoned, and the office was locked up. Since then, according to Vishakha Raut, corporators have visited the headquarters every other day. “We sit on sofas outside the office. People come to us with their difficulties and to meet extra and deputy municipal commissioners because we have not given up on our wards. We deliver them to the appropriate officers and settle their concerns,” said Raut.

She reported that roughly ninety former city council members attended a gathering over the weekend to pledge their support to Uddhav Thackeray.

Sheetal Mhatre, a former Shiv Sena corporator from Dahisar west and spokesperson for the Eknath Shinde faction, stated, “Let them wait outside the Sena office in the BMC as they have no employment. We are officially the Shiv Sena, and all of our actions will be legitimate. Why should we besiege a certain office? They lack the legal authority to hold these positions. Even at Mantralaya, we legitimately took over the office. We didn’t break locks and enter. We need not resort to such measures. Why sit outside the party office if nobody visits the BMC headquarters?”

Mhatre stated that the plight of former corporators from Uddhav Thackeray’s side was unfortunate, as they were unaware of their party’s emblem or name.

“Uddhav Thackeray or Rashmi Thackeray do not represent the Shiv Sena on their own. Balasaheb had further children. What will they do if Nihar Thackeray (Uddhav’s nephew) claims Shiv Sena is his?” Mhatre remarked.

Mhatre emphasised that Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena was not interested in becoming property owners or seizing the Sena Bhavan. “Balasaheb had only two properties, the bow and arrow emblem and the name of the Shiv Sena, and we now have both.”

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