The Election Commission of India has directed Maharashtra leaders Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde to submit documents to prove that they have a majority of members backing them in the Shiv Sena, NDTV reported on Friday. The documentary evidence will decide who will lead the party.

Both Shinde and Thackeray factions have claimed that they are the real Shiv Sena.

The Shinde-led faction has written to the Election Commission, claiming that it has the support of 40 out of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs and 12 out of 18 Lok Sabha MPs, reported NDTV.

Chaos ensued in the Shiv Sena in June after Shinde rebelled against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government – a coalition of Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.

Subsequently, the coalition was ousted from power as the Thackeray faction was reduced to a minority in the state Assembly.

Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra on June 30, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as his deputy.

On July 4, Shinde won a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly. He got 164 votes in his support, significantly above the majority mark of 145, while 99 MLAs voted against him.

Shiv Sena is a recognised party by the Election Commission. Now with a split in the party, the poll body will decide which faction is the real Shiv Sena.

“…It is evident that there is a split in the Shiv Sena, one group of which is being led by Eknath Shinde and the other group is being led by Uddhav Thackeray,” the Election Commission’s notice to both the camps said, NDTV reported. “Both the groups claim to be the real Shiv Sena with their leader being the alleged president of Shiv Sena party.”

The poll body has asked both sides to submit documents by August 8, reported NDTV.

The Election Commission will hear the matter after receiving the documentary evidence from both sides, it said.

Shiv Sena moves Supreme Court

After a split in the party, the Thackeray and Shinde factions had filed six petitions in the Supreme Court.

Shinde has challenged the disqualification notices issued against him and 15 other MLAs of his group by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal on June 25. On the other hand, Thackeray filed a plea against newly-elected Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar’s decision to recognise Bharatsheth Gogawale as the new party whip. Gogawale is backed by the Shinde camp.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kolhi said that the petitions filed by both the factions raise many constitutional questions. The chief justice said that both the camps may need to be examined by a larger bench.

The court directed both the sides to formulate points for consideration by a larger bench by July 27.