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Sena’s first tryst, and victory, with mashaal in 1985: ‘Party had no money, it was easy to draw’

While the flaming torch symbols opens a new chapter in the history of the party set up by Bal Thackeray, the Sena already has a history with the newly-allotted symbol, having won an election on the flaming torch logo way back in 1985 when the party did not have a dedicated election symbol.

Symbol used in then Sena leader Chhagan Bhujbal's  poll campaign in 1985.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday decided to allot the ‘flaming torch’ symbol to the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena, which has also been allotted a new name. It will now be called Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).

While the flaming torch symbols opens a new chapter in the history of the party set up by Bal Thackeray, the Sena already has a history with the newly-allotted symbol, having won an election on the flaming torch logo way back in 1985 when the party did not have a dedicated election symbol.

Poster released by Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena

Chhagan Bhujbal, the lone Sena MLA in the Maharashtra Assembly back then, had won from Mazgaon constituency with the flaming torch symbol. In the absence of a dedicated symbol, Bhujbal and other Sena candidates, including former chief minister Manohar Joshi, had opted for various symbols to fight the election. The other symbols were a rising sun, and bat and ball.

“I had chosen the flaming torch because it was a symbol of revolution and a symbolism which showed a new path to the people of Maharashtra,” Bhujbal told The Indian Express.

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Reminiscing about the 1985 Assembly election, Bhujbal said the poll campaign then was largely based on wall paintings and writings, and the flaming torch was an extremely easy symbol to draw.

“We did not have money then to fight elections, so even I used to make wall paintings. Drawing a flaming torch was the easiest, even for me. I drew that during my campaign and it was eye-catching for the voters. It led me to a historic victory and I was then the lone MLA of the Sena in the assembly,” he said.

Bhujbal, now a senior leader with Nationalist Congress Party, said his victory in the assembly with a flaming torch as the symbol was followed by the Sena’s journey of victories everywhere. “I am sure that this will be repeated for Uddhav Thackeray and the flaming torch symbol will take Shiv Sena to new heights in Maharashtra’s politics,” he said.

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It was in 1989 when the Sena was permanently assigned the bow and arrow as its election symbol, as well as recognition as a state party.

Senior party leader Diwakar Raote said the party had contested elections on various symbols. “Till the time the Sena was not a recognised party, it contested on symbols of shield and sword, rising sun, railway engine, palm trees etc. The party got its symbol bow and arrow in 1989,” he said.

Earlier, in 1968 , when the party fought the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election – two years after its formation – it did so with the symbol of sword and shield. In 1970, when Sena’s first ever MLA, late Wamanrao Mahadik, was elected in an assembly bypoll after the murder of CPI MLA Krishna Desai, his symbol was the rising sun.

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When the Sena came to power in the Thane Municipal Corporation in 1968, the party had no dedicated symbol. In successive elections, the party contested polls on symbols such as railway engine, palm trees and rising sun.

First published on: 11-10-2022 at 07:00 IST
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