Nationalist Congress Party belongs to Ajit Pawar, rules Maha Speaker (Ld)

Mumbai, Feb 15 (IANS) Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar on Thursday ruled that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is the ‘real NCP’, and also said the legislators from both the NCP factions are “not disqualified”.

Delivering his verdict on the disqualification petitions filed by both rival NCP factions after the party split in June 2023, the Speaker said that a majority — 41 MLAs are with Ajit Pawar, compared with 14 with the Sharad Pawar group.

Narwekar considered the majority in the legislature as the criteria and ruled that the Ajit Pawar group had the maximum number of MLAs compared with the Sharad Pawar group, hence the former (Ajit Pawar) group was the ‘real NCP’.

While the Ajit Pawar group had 41 of the total 53 MLAs, which was rejected by the Sharad Pawar side both sides claimed that the election to the party president post was not as per its Constitution, there was no challenge to Sharad Pawar’s presidentship till June 29, 2023, but the next day (June 30, 2023) there were two presidents, observed the Speaker.

The Speaker said he had based his ruling on the five petitions before him he applied criteria like the NCP’s constitution, leadership structure, majority in the legislature, the directions of the Supreme Court, the records of the legislature and the documents submitted by both the factions.

Since the legal criteria were not fulfilled, the two tests of party constitution and leadership structure were not applicable in this case, and accordingly it was possible to decide which is the real NCP on the criterion of the majority in the legislature, he said.

“Prior to joining the (Maharashtra) government, the Ajit Pawar faction outnumbered the Sharad Pawar faction in terms of number of MLAs and MLCs. Two parallel party presidents and structures existed before July 2, 2023 when Ajit Pawar became part of the government,” said Narwekar.

The Speaker also dismissed the petitions by both factions, seeking to ‘disqualify’ the MLAs of each other citing various grounds.

NCP (SP) National General Secretary Jitendra Awhad slammed the Speaker’s verdict, terming it a ‘laughable’, and said that the law has been trampled upon, and cited contradictions between the Speaker’s ruling and the recent observations by Election Commission.

NCP (SP) senior leader Eknath Khadse said that the Speaker has given a stamp of approval to the person who has the support of the higher number of legislators but all other aspects like forming the party, nurturing it, getting people elected, etc. were completely ignored.

Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said that it is a daylight murder of democracy by the Speaker and the NCP-SP should give it a challenge.

SS-UBT MLA Aditya Thackeray said that this is an insult to all the icons of the state, people are asking whether ‘democracy and constitution exist’ in India or not, and warned that the people will teach the Bharatiya Janata Party a lesson in the next elections. NCP President Ajit Pawar declined to comment before reading the Speaker’s verdict, while his other party colleagues including Chief Whip Anil Patil hailed the ruling.

The decision proved another huge setback to Sharad Pawar, and came days after the Election Commission of India (ECI) allotted the NCP party and its ‘Clock’ symbol to the Ajit Pawar group.

The Sharad Pawar faction, which was recently given the temporary name of ‘NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar’, has challenged the EC decision in the Supreme Court.



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