With the Election Commission ruling in favour of the Eknath Shinde section, the Shiv Sena will now be without the Thackerays, the next generation of Balasaheb Thackeray, who established the party. When Eknath Shinde rebelled against the Shiv Sena and walked out of the party with 40 MLAs and 13 MPs, the Shiv Sainiks held on to the belief that the Shiv Sena, founded by Balasaheb Thackeray on June 19, 1966, would continue to have the Thackerays in the party. Thackeray’s could never have predicted that they would one day lose everything Balasaheb had built.
Shiv Sena—Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (UBT)—led by Balasaheb’s son and former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra struggled a lot to hold everything back but it slipped in no time. The Thackerays are also facing the tough challenge of holding on to power at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which the party has been ruling for over three decades. In the interim period, the EC had allotted the flaming torch (Mashaal) symbol to the faction headed by Uddhav Thackeray. But Bihar’s Samata Party is in a rush to claim Mashal, which is their party symbol.
The Samata Party (SAP) is a political party in India, initially formed in 1994 by leaders George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar, now led by Uday Mandal, its National President. The Samata Party once launched Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar. It was an offshoot of the Janata Dal, with the alleged casteism of the parent party being the reason given for the split. The party has communist leanings and, at one point, wielded considerable political and social influence in North India, particularly in Bihar. The majority of Samata Party members joined the Janata Dal (United) in 2003. Only a faction led by MP Brahmanand Mandal remained in the Samata Party and continued to use the party name and symbols.
In the general elections of 1996, the Samata Party formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party and won eight seats, six of which were in Bihar and one each in Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Before the election, the party was largely rooted in Bihar. In the 1998 general elections, again in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, it won twelve seats: ten from Bihar and two from Uttar Pradesh. The Samata Party and the BJP have a traditional alliance. Meanwhile, the BJP is hell-bent on harassing Uddhav Thackeray, and they are not ready to let him settle. So here comes the Samata party to take on Uddhav’s Shiv Sena. The Samata Party’s election symbol is also Mashal (a burning torch).
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In March 2000, Nitish Kumar was elected leader of the NDA for the post of Chief Minister of Bihar. On March 3, he was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the first time at the behest of the Vajpayee government in the centre. The NDA and its allies had 151 MLAs, whereas Lalu Prasad Yadav had 15 MLAs in the 324-member house. Both alliances were less than the majority mark of 163. Nitish resigned because he could not prove his numbers in the house. Radhabinod Koijam became the second chief minister from the Samata Party when he was sworn in as chief minister of Manipur on February 15, 2001. The government was, however, short-lived. The coalition he was leading fell in May of the same year.
In the 1999 Lok Sabha election, the Samata Party was in an informal alliance with the Lok Shakti and the Janata Dal (U). A proposal to merge the three into a single party was called off in January 2000 by George Fernandes, who said the party would run in the 2000 Bihar Legislative Assembly election on its own. In October 2003, George Fernandes, the president of the Samata Party, announced that the party would be completely merging with the Janata Dal (United). The Janata Dal (United) was part of the ruling coalition in the National Democratic Alliance.
The BJP is a staunch Hindutva party, while the Samata Party espouses communist ideology. There were ideological differences, but George Fernandes supported the BJP the most. Samata Party Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) Brahmanand Mandal was opposed to the merger with the other members. Mandal was the leader of the minority faction that opposed the merger. Since all the members did not support the official merger and Brahmanand’s faction challenged the merger of the party in front of the ECI, the merger wasn’t officially recognized by the Election Commission of India. Because the Election Commission of India determined that the merger was not technically complete, a faction was permitted to operate under the Samata Party name.
Then the Party leader Sharad Yadav, announced that the ECI decision would have no effect on his merger plans as all candidates of Samata Party would be contesting the upcoming 2004 Lok Sabha election as candidate of Janata Dal United on the election symbol of Arrow. The majority of the party’s members merged with JDU as proposed, but a small portion of the Samata Party retained the name Samata Party under the leadership of Brahmanand Mandal.
In the 2009 general elections for the 14th Lok Sabha (2009–2014), it contested 11 seats and was defeated in all of them. It had secured a total of 31324 votes, which was only 0.02 per cent of the total number of votes cast in that state. For the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the Samata Party decided to forgo any alliance, stating that it would not ally with the Congress. The Samata Party began to shrink gradually after all of its top leaders defected to the Janata Dal (United). With its poor election performance, it began to lose popularity and was almost on the verge of closure.
In 2020, the leadership of the party was given to Uday Mandal. The party follows socialist ideology, in particular that of Ram Manohar Lohia. In the recent development the delegation of Samata Party approached CM Eknath Shinde and sought help to take back the Mashal symbol from Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena.