Explainer: The NCP vs NCP, Sena vs Sena saga

On Tuesday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar received a big jolt as the Election Commission (EC) recognised the Ajit Pawar faction as the real NCP, giving it control of the party name and the party symbol (clock).

New Update
EC

Considering the upcoming elections for six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra, scheduled for notification on February 8, 2024, the EC granted a special concession to the Sharad Pawar group.

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The “real” vs unreal game is on in India’s financial capital. 

First came  the Sena vs Sena war. It’s NCP vs NCP now. 

Even as the political brinkmanship continues among the various factions belonging to the very many political satraps, we will explain the whys and hows of the political show that must go on in Mumbai and other parts of the political arena in Maharashtra.

THE ‘REAL’ NCP

On Tuesday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar received a big jolt as the Election Commission (EC) recognised the Ajit Pawar faction as the real NCP, giving it control of the party name and the party symbol (clock). 

Considering the upcoming elections for six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra, scheduled for notification on February 8, 2024, the EC granted a special concession to the Sharad Pawar group. 

In a one-time allowance, the group was permitted to claim a name for its new political formation and submit three preferences to the EC by 3 pm on February 7.

The development comes nearly eight months after the junior Pawar (nephew to Pawar senior) broke away from the Sharad Pawar camp.

Ajit Pawar had joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra, bringing along eight NCP MLAs.

WHY AJIT WINS  

After conducting over 10 hearings spanning six months, the EC relied on the test of legislative majority to grant the NCP name and its reserved "alarm clock" symbol to the faction led by Ajit Pawar. 

This decision followed intense legal battles between the high-profile legal teams representing both factions.

According to a Times of India report, “serious inconsistencies were found in terms of timelines” mentioned in the claim of Sharad Pawar group to having the organizational majority. 

The claim was thus assessed by EC as unreliable.

The Indian Express quoted the EC as saying that it had relied on the test of majority in the party’s legislative wing to decide the dispute, which arose in July last year. 

According to the order, sent to both the factions, the total number of MPs, MLAs and MLCs of the NCP was 81, of which 57 had supported Ajit Pawar and 28 had supported Sharad Pawar. 

Even as there was a doubt over five MLAs and one MP owing allegiance to both, the Ajit faction had a majority. 

The EC rejected the test of majority in the party’s organisational wing — “internal elections were without any foundational basis” —  even as the Ajit Pawar group had cited the EC order in the Shiv Sena dispute.

The EC had said then the test of majority in the organisational wing of the party cannot be an indicator  of which faction enjoys support if the party is not run in a democratic manner. 

Among the many claims — in Ajit Pawar’s petition on July 1 to the EC under the Elections Symbol Order, 1968 — was violation of the party constitution while on July 2, the senior Pawar group had in a letter to the EC alleged “anti-party activities by the MLAs”. 

WHAT THEY SAY

‘CONSPIRACY’: Sharad Pawar’s daughter and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule said the party would approach the SC. 

MAJORITY KEY: Ajit Pawar says, “The majority is vital in a democracy. The EC had accepted our submissions.” 

GOOD PRACTICE: The EC advises all political parties to adopt good disclosure practices related to organisational elections and internal party democracy. “Perhaps time has come for political parties to consider voluntary, wider public disclosures of party constitution; amendments thereof, if any; internal electoral steps,” the TOI quoted the EC as saying among other things. 

‘REAL’ SHIV SENA

On January 10, Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar declared that the faction of the Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde was deemed the "real political party" during the emergence of rival groups on June 21, 2022.

The Supreme Court had previously instructed the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly speaker to announce his decision on the disqualification petitions filed by the rival factions by January 10. 

In June 2022, Eknath Shinde, along with several other MLAs, revolted against then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, causing a division within the Shiv Sena, originally founded by the late Bal Thackeray. 

This rebellion resulted in the collapse of the ruling coalition, the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which also included the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, in addition to the Shiv Sena.

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray or UBT) was formed in 2022 under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray.

It was allotted a new symbol by the EC, separate from the main Shiv Sena. 

It was one of two separate factions, the other being the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, led by Eknath Shinde.