Veteran politician Sharad Pawar‘s party has a new name – the Nationalist Congress Party Sharadchandra Pawar – the Election Commission said Wednesday, a day after it ruled the faction led by his nephew, Ajit Pawar, is the ‘real’ NCP and will be allotted its name and symbol (a clock).
The Election Commission said it had accepted “the name of your group/faction as a onetime option for the purposes of the forthcoming election to six seats in the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra”.
The poll body has yet to allot a symbol for the NCP Sharadchandra Pawar; sources told NDTV the choice is between the rising sun (a variation is used by Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), a pair of glasses (a variation is with the Indian National Lok Dal), and a banyan tree.
On Tuesday the Election Commission said the NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar – who broke from his uncle’s side in July to align with the BJP and be sworn in as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister – could retain use of the party name and symbol since he had more MLAs in the state Assembly.
The NCP has 53 MLAs and only 12 have sided with Sharad Pawar.
Sharad Pawar was given till 4 pm today to come up with an alternative name.
Sources said the 84-year-old Sharad Pawar held several meetings with lawyers and party leaders to come up with a name. The party, sources said, is keen on keeping either ‘Nationalist’ or Mr Pawar’s name front-and-centre, to counter a potential bleeding of votes in centre and state elections.
A challenge, party leaders have admitted, is spreading awareness about any new name so close to an election since voters, particularly in rural areas, will identify the clock image with Sharad Pawar.
Other names considered were Sharad Pawar Congress and Sharad Pawar Swabhimani Paksh.
The poll body’s decision – which played out exactly as the Sena vs Sena fight, in which the faction led by Eknath Shinde (made Chief Minister after breaking the Shiv Sena and allying with the BJP) was recognised as the ‘real Sena’ – has been fiercely criticised by lawmakers loyal to Sharad Pawar.
“The whole world knows who founded the NCP… So what the Election Commission did despite that is the murder of democracy by the election commission,” Anil Desmukh, a former Minister, said.
Sharad Pawar’s camp will move the Supreme Court against the Election Commission’s decision, senior leader Jayant Patil has said. “It is our innocent expectation the court will stay the decision…”