India

Sharad Pawar bloc has till 4pm today to pick new name | India News



NEW DELHI: Sharad Pawar, who founded Nationalist Congress Party in 1999 by breaking away from Congress, has lost the name of the party and its ‘clock’ election symbol to his rebel nephew Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, who stunned him seven months ago by splitting the party to join the BJP-Shiv Sena saffron coalition.
Election Commission on Tuesday decided the NCP symbol dispute in favour of the faction led by Ajit Pawar. EC, which held more than 10 hearings over six months in the case that saw high-profile legal teams fielded by both factions, ultimately went by the test of legislative majority.
The test of numbers, one of the touchstones laid down in Sadiq Ali verdict for deciding the ‘real party’ in the event of a split, was employed by EC last year to rule on the split in Shiv Sena.
Election Commission order put on record that of the total 81 MPs, MLAs and MLCs belonging to NCP, 57 had filed affidavits declaring support for Ajit and only 28 for Sharad Pawar. Five MLAs and one LS MP filed affidavits in support of both factions. EC said even if these were to be counted along with affidavits favouring Sharad Pawar, the Ajit faction would still have numerical majority of 51 of 81 legislators.
Though NCP dispute was pending with Election Commission since June 30 last year, there was no interim order as no electoral contest came up during pendency.
With the Sharad Pawar group now no longer a party, EC on Tuesday allowed it a one-time concession in view of the impending poll to six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra, the notification for which will be issued on Thursday. EC asked the Sharad Pawar faction to claim a name for its political formation and present three preferences to it by 4pm on Wednesday. This way, it can comply with Rule 39AA of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, which allows authorised agents of parties to verify to whom an elector, who is a member of a party, has cast his vote.
Importantly, though disqualification petitions were also filed under the Tenth Schedule by the rival NCP groups against members of the opposite group, EC held that it ought not wait for their outcome as the symbol dispute had come to it prior to filing of the disqualification petitions.
As regards the others tests to determine symbols dispute such as test of aims and objectives of party constitution and the test of majority in the organisational wing, EC said they could not be applied as neither faction could be assessed as fulfilling the party’s aims and objectives or working as per the party constitution. Moreover, there was no clarity on which of the bodies constituted the organisational wing of the party and the organisational election held in 2022 was disputed. The occupants of party posts were assessed by the poll body as primarily appointed by self-nominated members of the electoral college, against the norms of internal party democracy.
The commission, meanwhile, has advised all political parties to adopt good disclosure practices related to organisational elections and internal party democracy. It suggested that parties post on their websites the party constitution and amendments thereof; internal electoral steps such as publication of electoral college, dates of elections, time and venue of elections of different tiers, candidates; internal complaint redressal mechanisms; and list of elected office bearers, etc.





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