Big Setback To Sharad Pawar, EC Decides NCP Symbol Goes To Ajit Pawar Faction
New Delhi, Feb 6: In a big setback to the faction led by Sharad Pawar, the Election Commission on Tuesday settled the dispute in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in favour of the faction led by the petitioner Ajit Pawar.
The poll panel has given the Nationalist Congress Party name and symbol to the faction led by Ajit Pawar in a significant decision that has a bearing on the forthcoming polls.
The Commission has provided the Sharad Pawar faction with a one-time option to claim a name to its new political formation and provide three preferences to the Commission. The concession is to be utilised by 3 pm on February 7, 2024.
The decision was taken after more than 10 hearings spread over more than six months.
The poll panel said that the decision followed the laid-out tests of maintainability of the petition, which included tests of aims and objectives of the party constitution, test of party constitution and tests of a majority both organizational and legislative.
The hearings, which commenced on July 1 last year between factions led by Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar saw strong legal teams from both sides including Mukul Rohatgi, Neeraj Kishan Kaul and Maninder Singh for the petitioner and Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Devdatt Kamat from the respondent.
The test of majority in the legislative wing found favour in this circumstance of the case, where both groups have been found to be working outside the party constitution and the organizational elections, the poll panel said.
The occupants of the post were primarily assessed to be appointed by self-nominated members of the electoral college and against the internal party democracy.
Serious inconsistencies in terms of timelines in the claim of the Sharad Pawar group, in support of their claim of having the organizational majority, resulted in unreliability of their claim, it said.
Taking into account the significant timeline of the elections to the 6 seats of Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra which were notified through ECI press note of January 29, 2024, the Sharad Pawar faction has been given a special concession to comply with Rule 39AA of Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, which allow the authorised agents of political parties to verify as to whom an elector, who is a member of a political party has cast his vote.
Using its powers under Para 18 of the Symbols Order, the poll panel has provided the Sharad Pawar faction, the respondent, “a one-time option to claim a name to its new political formation and provide three preferences to the Commission”.
The implications of the para 15 of the symbol order, i.e. the ruling as laid down in the matter of amalgamation of Indian Congress (socialist) and Nationalist Congress Party, ECI order of Aug 4, 1999 was relied upon in the present matter pertaining to Rajya Sabha elections.
Going beyond the recommendations of political parties of need of maintaining transparency in internal affairs, the Commission expressed hope that political parties will adopt good disclosure practices of organizational elections and internal party democracy.
It advised, in its order, that perhaps 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”.
“Such disclosures on their websites shall keep the most valuable stakeholder of electoral democracy, that is the electorate at large duly informed,” the poll panel said. (Agencies)