The appointment of Ajit Pawar as the Nationalist Congress Party’s National President is “illegal”, the Sharad Pawar-led faction fumed Friday in its reply to the Election Commission of India. The Pawar side of the NCP was responding to a plea by Ajit Pawar’s half staking claim to the NCP’s symbol. The plea was filed “to pre-emptively avoid inevitable disqualification (of the rebel leaders)”, the response said.
The Pawar camp has told the top poll body the Constitution of the party does not allow legislators to appoint a party boss, and that Ajit Pawar had “unilaterally sought to appoint himself as the boss on basis of signatures of some legislators”; the contentious resolution had Ajit Pawar as ‘Signatory No 1’.
The Sharad Pawar faction has also stressed that “there is no split in the NCP” – which was divided earlier this year after the nephew rebelled against the uncle and joined hands with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which is itself propped up by a rebel faction of the Shiv Sena.
The Pawar faction further argued that Ajit Pawar held a National Convention – without issuing notice or appointing a Chief Returning Officer – where his “appointment” was ratified.
Ajit Pawar, 63, was restored as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister – a post he held in the former government too – after he walked out of the NCP, taking over 40 lawmakers with him.
Pawar senior’s response also said disqualification petitions had been moved against “nine delinquent MLAs (on July 2) and 20 MLAs (on September 5) on grounds of anti-party activities”.
“It is submitted… affidavits of MLAs against whom disqualification petitions are pending cannot be taken into account for purpose of deciding the majority. Therefore, affidavits of 29 MLAs… cannot be taken into account for purpose of ascertaining majority of petitioner,” the Sharad Pawar camp said.
“Of the remaining 24 MLAs, it is submitted the respondent continues to enjoy support of 12…”
NCP boss Sharad Pawar’s faction underlined its stance on this issue in August too; in which Mr Pawar, 82, said “a few” had left to “take a different political stance (but) this does not constitute a split”.
“It’s not like a majority of the people from the party are going out. Some people have taken a different stand, democracy allows them to do so. It’s not a split in the party,” he had said.
Also in August, the Sharad Pawar camp told the Election Commission that Ajit Pawar’s demand for the NCP symbol is “premature”, “malafide” and should be rejected.
“Ajit Pawar has not been able to demonstrate, even prima facie, there exists a dispute (within the) NCP… Election Commission has also not made any prima facie determination there is any dispute between NCP, led by National President Sharad Pawar, and former members (led by Ajit Pawar).”