Sharad Pawar challenges ECI's grant of NCP name, symbol to Ajit Pawar in SC

Election Commission concluded that the Ajit Pawar faction had the majority support of 57 out 81 MLAs, granting it the NCP name and 'clock' symbol

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar addresses a press conference.

Sharad Pawar

Vasudha Mukherjee New Delhi

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The Sharad Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has taken the Election Commission of India's decision to recognise the Ajit Pawar group as the authentic NCP to the Supreme Court. This move comes after the Election Commission granted the Ajit Pawar faction the party's name and symbol.

The plea was filed by Sharad Pawar himself through lawyer Abhishek Jebaraj, contesting the Election Commission's decision.

On July 2, 2023, Ajit Pawar split the NCP, joining the Eknath Shinde-led government along with eight MLAs of the party. He was also sworn in as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra for the fourth time following this decision.

This led to numerous hearings over more than six months, with the poll panel conducting tests to ascertain party constitution compliance and organisational and legislative majority, among others. Ajit Pawar presented affidavits from 57 NCP MLAs, whereas Sharad Pawar had support from only 28 MLAs out of a total of 81 in the Maharashtra state assembly.

On February 6, 2024, the Election Commission resolved the dispute within the NCP in favour of Ajit Pawar's faction, awarding them the NCP name and 'clock' symbol. This decision was pivotal for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The Sharad Pawar faction was given until February 7, 2024, to choose a new name for their political entity.

The Election Commission's order was criticised, with former minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Aaditya Thackeray branding the Commission as "entirely compromised" for ruling Ajit Pawar's faction as the "real NCP". in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

The Sharad Pawar faction also moved to disqualify the rebel MLAs who left the party alongside Ajit Pawar. The Supreme Court (SC) had previously extended the deadline for the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to decide on disqualification petitions against rebel MLAs led by Ajit Pawar.

Sharad Pawar loyalist Jayant Patil moved the apex court seeking expedited disposal of the disqualification petitions, following a similar directive in a case involving a dispute within the Shiv Sena party.

Meanwhile, anticipating legal challenges, the Ajit Pawar faction filed a caveat application in the Supreme Court to prevent any adverse order without their representation.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Feb 13 2024 | 4:43 PM IST

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