Election Commission of India on Saturday asked new rivals in Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde (two camps of a party), who approached the poll body to stake claim over Bal Thackeray-founded outfit, to submit documentary evidence to prove that they have the majority members in the Shiv Sena.
The ECI also sent to the Thackeray camp the letter written to them (EC) by the Shinde faction and Thackeray camp's letter to the Shinde faction and sought replies from both the camps by August 8.
The poll body would hear the claims made by both the factions after receiving the reply from both ends.
Notably, Shinde led a revolt against Thackeray last month leading to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state. The fight to stake claim over Shiv Sena reached the ECI after both sides wrote to the Commission.
The Shinde faction, which gained power with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has 40 out of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs. It has requested the ECI to recognise the faction as the 'real' Shiv Sena while also urging the poll body for allocation of the bow-and-arrow poll symbol to the faction.
What came as another jolt to the Uddhav faction in the Parliament, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday accepted the demand of the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena to change the party leader in the House. Now the leader of Shiv Sena in the house will be Rahul Shewale.
Earlier today, 12 Lok Sabha members of the Shiv Sena met the Lok Sabha Speaker and requested him to change the leader of the party in the lower house of Parliament.
Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shawale said that a letter to change the party leader in the lower house of the parliament has been sent to the Lok Sabha speaker as he will be giving recognition to the party, once legal actions are taken.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday posted for hearing on August 1 the petitions filed by both factions of the Shiv Sena relating to the control of the Shiv Sena party and the recent political crisis in Maharashtra, which brought down the Maha Vikas Aghadi (Congress-Shiv Sena-NCP) government in the state.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli granted time to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led camp to file an affidavit on the pleas filed by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray-led faction.
Senior advocate Harish Salve for the Shinde camp sought time to file a reply on pleas filed by the Thackeray camp and asked the court to post the hearing next week.
Hinting at the formation of a larger bench in the future, CJI Ramana said, "Some of the issues, I strongly feel, may require a larger bench. A larger bench can hear the case."
Supreme Court said that the issues in petitions may require reference to a five-judge bench.
The bench further said that the Speaker will maintain the status quo and not decide on any disqualification applications.