ECI rules Ajit Pawar faction is the real NCP

It was the ‘test of legislative majority’ that clinched the symbol for the Ajit Pawar faction in view of disputed internal organisational elections

February 06, 2024 08:28 pm | Updated February 07, 2024 06:11 am IST - New Delhi

Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar. File

Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar. File | Photo Credit: PTI

In a setback to veteran politician Sharad Pawar, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday held that the faction led by his nephew Ajit Pawar is the real Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and it is entitled to use its name and reserved ‘clock’ symbol.

Making a concession to the faction led by Mr. Sharad Pawar, who is one of the founders of the NCP, the commission allowed it a “one-time option” to claim a name for its political outfit and provide three preferences by Wednesday in view of the upcoming Rajya Sabha election.

Also Read | Everyone knows who founded the NCP, says Sharad Pawar

The ECI order came after more than 10 hearings over six months.

In July 2023, Mr. Ajit Pawar had walked away with a majority of the NCP MLAs to support the BJP-Shiv Sena government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in Maharashtra. Over 40 out of NCP’s 53 MLAs sided with him.

In its order on Tuesday, the Commission said: “The faction led by petitioner Ajit Anantrao Pawar is the Nationalist Congress Party and is entitled to use its name and reserved symbol ‘Clock’ for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment), Order 1968”.

The Commission said it had examined the applicability of all three tests — the test of aims and objectives of the party’s constitution, the test of the party’s constitution, and the test of majority — to adjudicate the dispute.

In the end, it was the ‘test of legislative majority’ that clinched the symbol for the Ajit Pawar faction in view of disputed internal organisational elections.

The order said that the imminence of Rajya Sabha elections, which is not specifically accounted for in the above order of the Commission, becomes a “special circumstance and thus requires de novo consideration in view of elections to six seats in the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra which to be notified on Feb 8”.

Also Read: Shiv Sena split | Shinde faction is ‘real Shiv Sena’, declares Maharashtra Speaker; rejects all petitions to disqualify MLAs, including CM

“Accordingly, the commission provides a one-time option to the respondent [Mr. Sharad Pawar] for the purpose of forthcoming election to the Rajya Sabha in Maharashtra to claim a new name to its new political formation,” the ECI said.

The Commission further expressed hope that political parties would adopt good disclosure practices in organisational elections and internal party democracy.

Also Read | NCP split a reminder of succession battles in regional parties 

The poll body advised in its order that perhaps the time has come for political parties to consider “voluntary wider public disclosures of party constitution, amendments thereof, if any internal electoral steps such as publication of electoral college, dates of elections, time and venue of elections of different tiers, candidates, compliant redressal mechanisms within their organizations, and list of elected office bearers, etc.”

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