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EC Hears Both Factions Of NCP On Claims To Party Name, Symbol; Next Hearing On Monday

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Friday met the two factions of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), one led by Sharad Pawar and the other by his nephew Ajit Pawar, over their claims to the party name and poll symbol for over two hours. NCP founder Sharad Pawar was present at the personal hearing of the rival faction called by the poll panel, which decided to continue the proceedings on October 9 (Monday).

Ajit Pawar had moved the Election Commission staking claim to the party name and poll symbol in July. He had submitted that he had the support of 42 of the 53 NCP MLAs in Maharashtra, six of the nine MLCs, all seven party MLAs in Nagaland and one MP each in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. At the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared before the poll panel on behalf of Sharad Pawar while senior advocates N.K. Kaul and Maninder Singh were present representing Ajit Pawar.

The faction led by Ajit Pawar had rebelled against NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and moved the poll panel staking claim to the party name and symbol. “Under the circumstances, the petitioner submits that he enjoys overwhelming support in the organisational wing as well as legislative wing of the NCP and therefore the present petition may be allowed by the Commission by recognising the faction led by the petitioner to be the real political party,” Ajit Pawar said in his submission to the Election Commission.

The Ajit Pawar faction submitted its arguments in support of its claim before the poll panel on Friday. Meanwhile, Singhvi told the media after the meeting that “we appeared today and for over two hours the hearing went on”. “The first part of the hearing was our preliminary objection where we said that you are obliged to determine as a threshold issue whether there is a dispute… your jurisdiction depends on whether there is a dispute…,” Singvi said.

“The Commission heard us but said that we will not decide at this stage. That application we have liberty that rejection we can challenge in the court if we wish and we will take that decision collectively later,” Singhvi said. “Their first argument is that we don’t want the organisational test. They know that 99 per cent of the overwhelming NCP cadre is with the man standing next to me (Sharad Pawar). The man who founded it (the party) and created it and they are saying to ignore the organisational test,” he said.

“Second thing they are saying is that although the Supreme Court has clearly said that when disqualification is pending, you cannot apply the legislative majority test… But they say that no, we will distinguish in this way and that way. “So they are running away from the organisational test and they are out of the legislative test because the Supreme Court says no… But they invent a test to suit themselves. They invented a new test to count the MPs, count the MLAs, and then they add to count the votes which the MLA sor MLCs got,” SInghvi said.

Two days before rebelling against uncle Sharad Pawar to join the Maharashtra government in early July, Ajit Pawar had approached the EC on June 30 staking claim to the party name as well as the symbol. Subsequently, he also declared himself as the party president with the support of 40 MLAs.

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