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Election Commission of India Entrusts Leadership of Nationalist Congress Party to Ajit Pawar

IndiaElection Commission of India Entrusts Leadership of Nationalist Congress Party to Ajit Pawar

The Election Commission of India (EC) announced on Tuesday its decision to grant control of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to Ajit Pawar, who had parted ways with party founder Sharad Pawar in 2019 to support the formation of an NDA government in Maharashtra.

The EC based its decision on the test of majority in the legislature. With a total of 81 legislators (MPs, MLAs, and MLCs) spread across Maharashtra, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Jharkhand, and Nagaland, Ajit Pawar garnered support from 57 affidavits, while Sharad Pawar received 28. Some legislators provided affidavits for both factions.

Ajit Pawar secured the backing of all party MLAs from Jharkhand and Nagaland, whereas Sharad Pawar retained support from legislators in Kerala.

The commission’s ruling comes just ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, where Maharashtra MLAs are required to show their votes to the designated agent of their affiliated party. Sharad Pawar has until 4pm on Wednesday to propose a new name for his faction; otherwise, legislators aligned with him will be treated as Independents.

Echoing the Shiv Sena dispute, which was resolved in favor of Eknath Shinde due to legislative support, the EC urged political parties to embrace democratic processes in selecting their leaders and adhere to their respective constitutions.

The panel stated: “In the absence of democratic internal structures, internal disputes are bound to create rifts and factions leading to the determination of the question by the Election Commission under the Symbols Order. However, when a dispute comes to the commission under the Symbols Order 1968, invariably office-bearers of the organisational structure of political parties claim a numerical majority, sans the internal democratic rigour as per their respective constitutions. Thus, 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.”

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