Sharad Pawar is holding a national executive meet of the NCP in Delhi today.
The NCP national executive meet held by Sharad Pawar has drawn sharp response from the Ajit Pawar faction, which said it has "no legal sanctity". Sharad Pawar has written to the election body, objecting to his nephew's claim for the party symbol.
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The meet ratified the expulsion of nine rebel MLAs who took oath as ministers in the ruling alliance, besides Praful Patel, Sunil Tatkare and SR Kohli who have sided with the rebels. All 27 state units of the party are with Sharad Pawar, the leaders said after the meeting.
The Ajit Pawar faction said the dispute on who represents the real Nationalist Congress Party is "within the exclusive jurisdiction" of the Election Commission. Till it is decided no one can call "any meeting," a statement read.
Sharad Pawar has written to the Election Commission, questioning why he was not informed about his nephew staking claim for the party symbol. The Commission, he said, was expected to inform him about his nephew's petition in view of the caveat he filed.
Sources indicated that Pawar Senior will take legal advice and confer with party leaders about the way ahead. Leaders of the rebel faction are also in Delhi, but away from the party office where emotive posters supporting the 83-year-old founder of NCP have mushroomed.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Sharad Pawar said: "I am the president of NCP, if someone says (that he is the president) then it is completely false, there's no truth in it. There's no importance if someone (Ajit Pawar) says something".
The Ajit Pawar faction claims they declared him as the as the party leader on June 30 -- two days before his shock move of crossing over to the ruling alliance and taking oath as Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister. They have informed the Election Commission, sending along with affidavits of 40 party leaders – MPs, MLAs and MLCs – who were present on the occasion.
On basis of that, Ajit Pawar has staked claim for the Nationalist Congress Party name and symbol with the poll panel. But he needs 36 MLAs, a two-thirds majority of the party's 53 legislators, before the Commission considers his claim. So far, he appears to have the support of 32 MLAs. Sharad Pawar has the support of 14.
The MLAs were kept at a Mumbai hotel till this morning. Yesterday, a couple of the MLAs who signed up with the rebel faction had a change of heart.
Sharad Pawar also hit out at his nephew's age barb, saying, "I am still effective, whether I am 82 or 92". On Wednesday, in a shocking outburst, Ajit Pawar had said, " In BJP, leaders retire at 75, when are you going to stop? Your age is 83, will you ever stop or not?"
In the evening, Rahul Gandhi met Sharad Pawar at his official residence. At the meeting, Mr Gandhi expressed his full support to Mr Pawar and said he stands by the party in the fight against communal forces.