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ECI Grants NCP Symbol to Ajit Pawar-led Faction, Deals Blow to Sharad Pawar

In a significant development ahead of the looming Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has recognized the faction led by Ajit Pawar as the authentic Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), granting them the party’s coveted “clock” symbol. This ruling comes as a major setback to the faction led by veteran politician Sharad Pawar, following a protracted legal battle lasting over six months and spanning more than ten hearings.

The Election Commission’s decision was primarily based on the “test of legislative majority,” which favored the Ajit Pawar-led faction in light of disputed internal organizational elections. Despite efforts from the Sharad Pawar faction, the Commission concluded that Ajit Pawar’s group held the majority support among NCP legislators.

Ajit Pawar, who had orchestrated a political coup last July by aligning with the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition in Maharashtra, emerged victorious in the battle for the NCP’s identity and symbol. The Commission also provided Sharad Pawar’s faction with a one-time opportunity to propose a name for their new political entity and submit three preferences to the Commission by February 7th.

In its ruling, the Election Commission criticized the prevalence of undemocratic practices within political parties, warning against the transformation of parties into “private fiefdoms” controlled by select individuals. It emphasized the importance of democratic internal structures within parties to prevent internal disputes and factionalism.

Ajit Pawar’s supporters celebrated the ECI’s decision, hailing it as a triumph for their leader. However, the ruling sparked criticism from figures like Maharashtra leader Anil Deshmukh, who denounced it as an assault on democracy and accused the Commission of succumbing to external pressure.

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