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Sharad Pawar Urges Urgent SC Hearing on NCP Faction Recognition

Sharad Pawar, a veteran leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), is seeking an urgent hearing before the Supreme Court (SC) to dispute the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to officially recognise the group led by Ajit Pawar as the’real’ NCP.

Sharad Pawar had already petitioned the Supreme Court to contest the ECI’s decision to recognize the Ajit Pawar group as the’real’ NCP and allow the use of party insignia. Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Sharad Pawar, has now pleaded for an expedited listing of the case, noting the forthcoming Maharashtra Assembly Session, which begins on February 20.

“Matter of extreme urgency. Because of an Election Commission order, Sharad Pawar will be subject to the whip of Ajit Pawar. Sessions in Maharashtra start next week. We have not been given any symbol at all,” Singhvi stated before the apex court.

Responding to the plea, a bench comprising the Chief Justice of India and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra assured that they would consider the urgent listing of the case.

NCP vs NCP

The conflict within the NCP erupted in July 2023, when Ajit Pawar defied Sharad Pawar and joined the Maharashtra coalition government as deputy chief minister, causing the NCP to split.

After examining the legislative wing, the EC found on February 6 that Ajit Pawar’s faction had the majority support among NCP MLAs in the Maharashtra State Assembly. As a result, the Commission awarded the group led by Ajit Pawar the right to use the ‘clock’ emblem for the party.

In its ruling, the EC stated that out of the total 81 NCP MLAs, Ajit Pawar submitted affidavits of 57 MLAs in his support, while Sharad Pawar presented affidavits from only 28 MLAs.

Disqualification petitions

The Sharad Pawar faction had also previously filed for the disqualification petitions against eight MLAs for anti-party activities after Ajit Pawar’s defection. The SC had earlier granted an extension until February 15 for the Speaker to issue a final order on the plea.

Despite Sharad Pawar’s faction challenging the decision, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar reaffirmed Ajit Pawar’s faction as the legitimate NCP and dismissed calls for the disqualification of either faction’s lawmakers.

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