NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Tuesday decided the National Congress Party (NCP) symbol dispute in favor of Ajit Pawar, almost eight months after the latter broke away from the Sharad Pawar camp to join the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra with eight NCP MLAs.
Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar said: “Election Commission has ruled in our favour after listening to the arguments of our lawyers. We welcome this humbly.”
Regarding the tests of maintainability, such as tests of aims and objectives of the party constitution, the test of the party constitution, and the test of majority in the organizational wing, the Election Commission found both groups to be working outside the party constitution and the organizational elections, not in order. The occupants of the party posts were primarily assessed to be appointed by self-nominated electoral college members, against internal party democracy.
Also, serious inconsistencies were found in terms of timelines mentioned in the claim of the Sharad Pawar group to have the organizational majority. The Election Commission thus assessed the claim as unreliable.
However, keeping in view the imminent elections to six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra — the notification for which is to be issued on February 8, 2024 — the EC, in a special concession to the Sharad Pawar group, allowed it a one-time option to claim a name for its new political formation and send three preferences to the EC by 3 pm on February 7. This will enable the Pawar faction to comply with Rule 39AA of the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961, which allows the authorized agents of political parties to verify for whom an elector, who is a member of a political party, has cast his vote.
The implications of Para 15 of the Symbols order, i.e., the ruling as laid down in the matter of the amalgamation of the Indian Congress (Socialist) and Nationalist Congress Party (ECI order of Aug 4, 1999), were relied upon in the matter about Rajya Sabha elections.
The Commission, meanwhile, also advised all political parties to adopt good disclosure practices related to organizational elections and internal party democracy. “Perhaps the time has come for political parties to consider voluntary, wider public disclosures of party constitution; amendments thereof, if any; internal electoral steps such as the publication of electoral college, dates of elections, time and venue of elections of different tiers, candidates, complaint redressal mechanisms within their organizations, and the list of elected office bearers, etc. Such disclosures on their websites shall keep the most valuable stakeholder of our electoral democracy, the electorate at large, duly informed,” the EC stated in its final order on the NCP symbol dispute.
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