Don’t ride piggyback on Sharad Pawar to get votes, Supreme Court tells nephew Ajit Pawar

Why are you (Ajit Pawar) using his (Sharad Pawar) photo? If you are so confident of your popularity and being a public leader, you get votes on your photos. Why are you riding on his back, asks Supreme Court.

Updated - March 14, 2024 03:02 pm IST

Published - March 14, 2024 12:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Sharad Pawar.

Sharad Pawar. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to not “ride piggyback” on uncle and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar to get votes.

A Bench of Justices Surya Kant and K.V. Viswanathan said Mr. Ajit Pawar should desist from using the elder Pawar’s photographs and name on his party pamphlets and notices.

“Why are you using his [Sharad Pawar] photo? If you are so confident of your popularity and being a public leader, you get votes on your photos. Why are you riding on his back,” Justice Kant asked senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Ajit Pawar group.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the Sharad Pawar faction, said “if you [Ajit Pawar camp] have the guts, get your votes yourself, why get votes on my piggyback?”

Mr. Singh said the workers, especially those in rural areas where not everyone had a smartphone to know that the uncle and nephew has separated ways, may be behind this turn of events.

“You [Ajit Pawar] chose to go separately. You say you are a separate political party now… You say you are two separate entities now, that you have separate identities… But to get to voters you need his [Sharad Pawar] face.... Go with your own identity… or is that to win elections, you need him. Once you win, you don’t need him,” Justice Kant asked.

‘Left-handed compliments’

Mr. Sharad Pawar had approached the court that his breakaway nephew, who is part of the coalition government with the BJP and the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, was paying him “left-handed compliments” by using his name and photographs on his pamphlets to mislead voters.

“This is a compliment I don’t want… Each vote counts. There should be fair, free elections, which is part of the basic structure,” Mr. Singhvi submitted.

The court said it wanted a “categorical and unconditional assurance” from the Ajit Pawar faction that they would not use Mr. Sharad Pawar’s name, photograph and identity directly or indirectly anymore.

“There will be no overlap between the two parties,” Justice Kant said.

Both factions have been asked to issue public notices clarifying their respective positions after the Ajit Pawar faction broke away from the NCP to join the coalition government in Maharashtra.

‘Clock’ symbol

Mr. Singhvi said even the original NCP symbol of ‘clock’ should be frozen.

“‘Clock’ is intertwined with the Sharad Pawar name and identity,” Mr. Singhvi said.

The court said it would hear the issue on March 19.

The elder Pawar has already challenged the Election Commission of India (ECI) decision on February 6 declaring Mr. Ajit Pawar’s camp as the “real” NCP.

The Supreme Court, however, on February 19, allowed Mr. Sharad Pawar and his faction to operate under the name ‘Nationalist Congress Party-Sharad Chandra Pawar’ apparently beyond the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled on February 27.

On the Supreme Court’s order, the ECI had also allocated the ‘trumpet’ as the party symbol for the Sharad Pawar-led faction.

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