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Maharashtra Speaker announces Ajit Pawar-led NCP as real considering legislative majority

Mumbai (Maharashtra): In a major blow to Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar on Thursday decided that the Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party is the real NCP considering the legislative majority and dismissed all the disqualification pleas against MLAs.

While announcing the decision, the Speaker said that it was based on the factor of legislative majority.

The Speaker elaborated that he came to this decision based on legislative majority because it was inconclusive based on leadership structure of NCP and the NCP constitution.

Rahul Narwekar dismissed the disqualification petition by the Sharad Pawar faction against the Ajit Pawar faction.

Ruling that it was not defection from the NCP party, the Speaker said that Ajit Pawar and the actions of others'(MLAs supporting Ajit Pawar) and "statements given between June 30 and July 2 were intra-party dissent".

Narwekar also dismissed the Ajit Pawar faction's disqualification petitions against Sharad Pawar faction MLAs, stating that no one stands disqualified.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had extended the time till February 15 for the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar to pass the final order on the plea of Sharad Pawar faction seeking disqualification against rebel MLAs led by Ajit Pawar.

On February 6, the Election Commission while applying the test of majority in the legislative wing, had ruled that Ajit Pawar's faction was the real NCP and permitted the faction to use the 'clock' symbol for the party.

In its order, the Election Commission had noted that the total number of NCP MLAs in the Maharashtra state assembly stood at 81 and out of this, Ajit Pawar submitted affidavits of 57 MLAs in his support while Sharad Pawar had only 28 affidavits.

"The faction led by petitioner Ajit Anantrao Pawar is the Nationalist Congress Party and is entitled to use its name and reserved symbol 'clock' for the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment), Order 1968," the Commission had noted.

However, the founder of NCP, Sharad Pawar moved to the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

In July 2023, Sharad Pawar-led group filed disqualification petitions against eight MLAs for anti-party activities after Ajit Pawar split the party and joined the coalition government in Maharashtra as Deputy Chief Minister.

Jayant Patil, Sharad Pawar loyalist, later moved the apex court seeking direction to the Speaker for time-bound disposal of the disqualification petitions in view of a similar direction passed by the top court in the case involving Shiv Sena party dispute between Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde group.

The apex court had then asked the Speaker to fast-track the adjudication of the disqualification petitions. 

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