Ajit Pawar faction stakes claim for NCP name and symbol

The Ajit Pawar faction has sought the name, Nationalist Congress Party, and symbol, alarm clock, under Paragraph 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, in a petition filed before the Election Commission.

According to EC insiders, the petition dated June 30 – two days before some NCP MLAs joined the Shinde ministry – reached Nirvachan Sadan on Tuesday. The Ajit faction also sent affidavits of 40 legislators, including MPs and MLCs. EC also received an undated resolution unanimously electing Ajit as NCP president.

As a counter measure, the Sharad Pawar faction filed a caveat. EC received a July 3 email from NCP Maharashtra unit chief Jayant Patil, representing the Sharad faction, informing EC that request for disqualification of nine Maharashtra NCP MLAs has been filed before the Maharashtra Speaker’s office and that it need to be heard before EC disposes of the petition filed by the Ajit group.

EC will have to determine which of the factions should be bestowed the existing name and symbol. Both factions will be asked to prove organisational and legislative majority, a process which would take several months. With less than 9 months left for notification of the Lok Sabha polls, the decision and the time taken for it would be crucial.

This is the second fight for the party name and symbol from the state in a year. The first one was after Eknath Shinde and colleagues split the Shiv Sena.

EC’s decisions in such cases have been based on the Symbols Order of 1968 and the 1972 Supreme Court order in the Sadiq Ali Vs Election Commission of India. Like earlier cases, EC applied the principle in the Shiv Sena case and handed over the party symbol of ‘bow and arrow’ to the Shinde faction last February. The SC upheld the EC ruling and strengthened its primacy in determining symbol-related disputes.

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