Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday alleged that Rs 2,000 crore were spent to “purchase” the Shiv Sena party name and its bow and arrow symbol.

“I am certain that Rs 2,000 crore were exchanged to get the Shiv Sena name and the bow and arrow symbol,” Raut claimed in a tweet. “...Nothing of this sort has happened in the country before.”

The Rajya Sabha MP claimed that the amount was spent over six months and that it was like a “commercial deal”, ANI reported. “This is my preliminary estimate,” he said. “The decision [of the Election Commission] is one that has been bought.”

Sada Sarvankar, a Shiv Sena MLA from the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, dismissed the allegations. “Is Sanjay Raut a cashier?” he asked, according to PTI.

Raut made the remarks two days after the Election Commission recognised the faction led by Shinde as the real Shiv Sena and allocated the bow and arrow symbol to it.

The faction led by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was assigned the symbol of a flaming torch. In its Friday ruling, the poll watchdog said the symbol along with the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) name will remain with his group till the bye-polls to the Chinchwad and Kasba Peth Assembly constituencies of Maharashtra.

The Shiv Sena split in June last year after Shinde led a rebellion by a group of legislators against Thackeray’s leadership, precipitating the collapse of the previous Maharashtra government, run in coalition by the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

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.

Election Commission order

In its 78-page order, the Election Commission said that 40 MLAs backing Shinde got nearly 76% of the votes polled in favour of the Shiv Sena, while the 15 MLAs from the Thackeray-led faction accounted for 23.5% of the votes.

Meanwhile, 13 MPs from the Shinde faction got 73% of the total votes cast in Shiv Sena’s favour in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, while only 27% of the votes went to MPs from the Thackeray camp, the poll panel said.

In its order, the Election Commission also observed that the party constitution of the Shiv Sena is undemocratic.

“It has been mutilated to undemocratically appoint people from a coterie as office bearers without any election at all,” the poll body said. “Such party structures fail to inspire confidence.”

It noted that the Election Commission had not been informed about amendments made in the party’s constitution in 2018.

“The Election Commission also observed that the undemocratic norms of the original Constitution of Shiv Sena, which was not accepted by the Commission in 1999 have been brought back in a surreptitious manner further making the party akin to a fiefdom,” the order added.