SC asks Ajit Pawar's NCP not to use Sharad Pawar’s image

The court was hearing a plea filed by Sharad Pawar challenging the ECI decision to recognise Ajit Pawar's faction as the official NCP

Sharad Pawar (left) and estranged nephew Ajit Pawar
Sharad Pawar (left) and estranged nephew Ajit Pawar

NH Digital

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar's faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which has been recognised as the 'real' NCP by the Election Commission of India (ECI), to submit an undertaking stating that it will not directly or indirectly use the name of parent party founder Sharad Pawar in its posters.

The apex court asked why the breakaway faction was using images of the former NCP supremo and Ajit Pawar's estranged uncle in its campaign posters. A bench of justices Surya Kant and K.V. Viswanathan suggested that Ajit Pawar’s group could use a symbol other than the clock — the original party symbol — for elections to avoid confusion.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by Sharad Pawar challenging the ECI decision of 6 February to recognise Ajit Pawar's faction as the official NCP, and allotting the clock symbol to it.

The poll panel had allowed Sharad Pawar’s faction to use a new name for the 27 February polls for six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra, and assigned the name 'Nationalist Congress Party – Sharadchandra Pawar' to his faction on 7 February.

Sharad Pawar had appealed to the Supreme Court on 16 February for an urgent hearing on his petition challenging the ECI order. On 19 February, the apex court allowed the faction to use the name Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar beyond the Rajya Sabha polls, and listed the matter for hearing after three weeks. On 22 February, the ECI allotted the symbol of a 'man blowing turha (bugle)' to Sharad Pawar’s faction.

Appearing for the Sharad Pawar group, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi highlighted that the official faction was using the ‘clock’ symbol and pictures of Sharad Pawar in their campaign material, and pointed out that one of the faction's leaders and state minister Chhagan Bhujbal had stated that the 'clock' symbol and images of Sharad Pawar should be used in posters to "lure" rural voters.

At this, justice Kant asked senior advocate Maninder Singh why this was so. “Why are you using his photographs? If you are so confident, then use your photographs. You have chosen to separate. Now stick to this. It is for you to control your workers,” he said.

Singh claimed that the party wasn’t using Sharad Pawar's images, but perhaps a few members were doing so without the knowledge of the party. Justice Kant observed that the party was responsible for all its members.

“You give an undertaking that you will stop all members (of your faction) from using his photo. Now that you are two separate entities, go only with your own identity. We want a very categorical and unconditional undertaking from you that you will not use his name, photos, etc. There can be no overlap,” stressed Justice Kant.

Singhvi also objected to the Ajit Pawar faction having been allotted the ‘clock’ symbol. “I have a new symbol. Let them use any symbol other than the clock. The clock is inextricably linked with Sharad Pawar's identity," Singhvi submitted.

In view of these concerns, the bench suggested that the junior Pawar faction could use another symbol as the EC order was being challenged in court. “What will happen if we set aside this order and suppose it happens in the middle of the election,” said the bench, while suggesting that they should explore the idea.

Singh agreed to file an affidavit by Saturday. The matter will be heard now on March 19.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines