In a significant setback for Sharad Pawar, the Election Commission of India (ECI) ruled on Tuesday that the faction led by his nephew Ajit Pawar is the authentic ‘Nationalist Congress Party’ and granted permission for the faction to utilize the ‘clock’ symbol for the party.
The ECI utilized the criterion of majority within the legislative wing to ascertain which of the two factions could legitimately claim to be the genuine NCP.
According to the poll body, the total number of NCP MLAs in the Maharashtra State assembly amounted to 81. Of these, Ajit Pawar submitted affidavits from 57 MLAs in his favor, whereas Sharad Pawar had only 28 affidavits.
Consequently, the commission determined that the group led by Ajit Pawar commanded the majority support of the legislators and could assert itself as the NCP.
“In light of these findings, the ECI has determined that the faction led by Ajit Pawar is the Nationalist Congress Party and is authorized to use its name and reserved symbol ‘clock’ pursuant to the Election Symbols Order,” stated the ECI in its decision.
The ECI dismissed the application of the majority criterion in the organizational wing of the party, as the particulars of the party’s organizational structure, its members, and their elections appeared to lack a solid foundation.
It was seen that the ‘working committee’ and the ‘national committee’ were the apex representative bodies of the party. However, the documents brought on record of the commission show that in the case of the working committee the names of the members were announced by Sharad Pawar at a convention held in September 2022 rather than as per party constitutions. In case of national committee, nothing was brought on record to show whether the elections of the state committee were even held as that formed crus of the national committee, EC Ordered
The ECI also underscored the challenges stemming from the lack of transparency in the operations of political parties across the nation.
Majority of symbol dispute cases before the Commission show that political parties are either not holding regular organisational elections, or not holding them as per party constitution or have amended their constitution in such a manner that elections have turned into appointments, Election Comission Observed
It further stated that the actions taken by the party made the application of the majority criterion in the organizational wing of the party unproductive.
Such party structures fail to inspire confidence of the Commission and the Commission is forced to ignore the numerical strength of opposing factions in the Organisational Wing despite being conscious of its importance and role as the building block of the party. This outcome is often a creation of the party itself, which failed to follow its own constitution,” EC held in it ‘s Order
The commission concluded its directive by urging all political parties to embrace transparent disclosure practices within their internal structures.
Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Neeraj Kaul, Maninder Singh, and Siddharth Bhatnagar, along with advocates Abhikalp Pratap Singh, Shrirang Varma, Devanshi Singh, Aditya Krishna, and Yamini Singh, represented Ajit Pawar.
Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Devadutt Kamat, with advocates Amit Bhandari, Pranjal Agarwal, Muhammad Ali Khan, Harsh Pandey, Anubhav Kumar, and Uday Bhatia, appeared for Sharad Pawar.