State Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on a poster from when the party was still united, | Photo Credit: ANI
A day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) determined there was a split in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and asked both the Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar-led rival factions to present their claims on October 6, Ajit Pawar on Friday expressed confidence on Friday that the ECI would take an appropriate decision on the issue.
“The ECI has summoned both factions to present their respective cases. Each will have to present their stance on why they have the right over the party. The Supreme Court has given powers to the ECI to decide on the claim to the party in the event of a split. They will make an appropriate decision after hearing both parties,” said Mr. Ajit Pawar, speaking in Pune.
The Election Commission had determined there was a division within the NCP on September 14 and summoned the rival factions for a hearing on October 6.
The Deputy CM had split the NCP when he rebelled against his uncle Sharad Pawar on July 2 this year to align with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. He, along with eight other NCP leaders, had been immediately sworn-in as cabinet ministers.
Since then, a struggle for supremacy has ensued within the NCP, with Mr. Ajit Pawar, now with the ruling government, throwing down the gauntlet to his 82-year-old uncle over the party’s leadership.
The faction led by Mr. Ajit Pawar has staked claim to the party name and symbol before the EC while Mr. Ajit Pawar has claimed to be the new party president of the NCP.
Since July 2, while both rival factions have periodically asserted there was no split within the party, the Sharad Pawar-led faction has sought the disqualification of the rebel NCP MLAs in both houses of the bicameral Maharashtra Legislature.
Mr. Sharad Pawar has asserted there was no split in the party and that “only a few leaders had parted ways”. However, his faction has been steadily cranking up the pressure on the rebels.
Earlier this week, the official handle of the Ajit Pawar-led NCP faction on micro-blogging site The handle was a near-copy of the latter’s handle.
The 82-year-old Mr. Pawar has been holding rallies across Maharashtra since his nephew’s rebellion, laying emphasis on the induction of young faces in the party to replace the rebel leaders who have defected to the ruling government’s side.