Nationalist Congress Party

The Nationalist Congress Party is one of the state parties in India.[6][7] It refers to the Ajit Pawar faction after the 2023 split in the party when the Supreme Court of India granted the original party name and symbol to the Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar Faction). It was one of the major political parties in Maharashtra and was a recognised state party in Nagaland and Kerala. In July 2023, majority of the elected MLAs and MLCs of the party led by Ajit Pawar joined the National Democratic Alliance government, however, all MPs except two remained loyal to Sharad Pawar.[1][8] This caused a direct split between the Ajit Pawar-led faction and the founder and president Sharad Pawar who formed the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) after EC recognised the Ajit Pawar faction as the original party.[9]

Nationalist Congress Party
PresidentAjit Pawar
Lok Sabha LeaderSunil Tatkare
Rajya Sabha LeaderPraful Patel
FounderSharad Pawar
P. A. Sangma
Tariq Anwar
Founded10 June 1999 (24 years ago) (1999-06-10)
Split fromIndian National Congress
Headquarters10, Bishmabhar Marg, New Delhi, India-110001
Political positionCentre
Colours  Pacific Blue
ECI StatusState Party[4]
Seats in Lok Sabha
1 / 543
Seats in Rajya Sabha
1 / 245
Seats in State Legislative Assemblies
Indian states
41 / 288
7 / 60
1 / 81
Seats in Maharashtra Legislative Council
6 / 78
Number of states and union territories in government
2 / 31
Election symbol
Party flag

The Nagaland state unit which was supporting the NDPP-BJP state government and the Jharkhand state unit of the party went with the Ajit Pawar-led NCP while the Kerala state unit of the party which was a part of the Left Democratic Front went with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP(SP).

Party formation and performance edit

The NCP was formed on 10 June 1999, by Sharad Pawar, P. A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar after they were expelled from the Indian National Congress on 20 May 1999, for disputing the right of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi to lead the party.[10][11][12] When the NCP formed, the Indian Congress (Socialist) – Sarat Chandra Sinha party merged into the new party.[13]

Despite the NCP being founded on opposition to the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, the party joined the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to form the government of Maharashtra in October 1999. In 2004, the party joined the UPA to form the national government led by Manmohan Singh. The NCP's leader, Sharad Pawar served as the Minister of Agriculture for both five-year terms of the Singh-led government. The party remained part of the Congress-led Maharashtra state government until 2014.[14] On 20 June 2012, P. A. Sangma left the NCP to contest the presidential election, which he lost.[15] In the April and May 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the UPA lost to the rival National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Narendra Modi and the NCP was out of government for the first time in ten years. The NCP broke its alliance with the Congress Party just before the October 2014 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections to contest them on its own.[16] In the assembly election the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the largest party and formed a minority government, initially with support from the NCP.

In April 2019, voting took place for the 48 Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra. The Congress and NCP had a seat-sharing arrangement.[17] Similarly, despite their differences, the BJP and Shiv Sena once again contested the elections together under the NDA banner.[18][19] The election was another landslide victory for the NDA, with the BJP and Shiv Sena winning 23 and 18 seats, respectively, out of the total of the state's 48 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress Party won only one seat in the state whereas the NCP won five seats from its stronghold of western Maharashtra.[20]

During the October 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections, the BJP–Shiv-Sena and NCP–Congress alliances remained intact for seat sharing. The BJP and Shiv Sena together gained the majority of seats in the assembly but could not form a government due to disagreements between the two parties. The BJP, with 105 seats, was far short of the 145 seats required to form a majority and declined to form a minority government. As a result, Shiv Sena started talks with the NCP and Congress to form a government. However, in a controversial move, on 23 November 2019, the BJP formed a government with support from the NCP, with Ajit Pawar as Deputy Chief Minister. This government collapsed three days later with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Pawar resigning their respective positions. Finally, the NCP came back into power at the state level as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition formed with Shiv Sena and the Congress. On 28 November 2019, the Governor of Maharashtra swore in Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Thackeray's cabinet included ministers from the NCP in key portfolios.[21][22]

However, this alliance lost power in June 2022 after a rebel faction led by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde gathered the support of a majority of Sena MLAs and reestablished the previous Sena-BJP coalition.[23] Subsequently, on 20 July, NCP President Sharad Pawar dissolved almost all units of the party.[24]

Party symbol edit

The election symbol of NCP is an analogue alarm clock.[25][26] The clock is drawn in blue and has two legs and an alarm button. It is situated on a tri-coloured Indian flag.[27]

2023 split edit

In July 2023, Ajit Pawar, along with many of his supporters, left the Sharad Pawar-led NCP and joined the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP government as a Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.[28] This caused the NCP to split into two factions, with Ajit Pawar claiming in a letter to the Election Commission that he had been elected party president on June 30.[29] In his first meeting after the split, he expressed a desire to retain the party's symbol and name, urged Sharad Pawar to retire and give opportunities to new people, and criticised many of Sharad's decisions, including the formation of a government with the Shiv Sena instead of the BJP in 2019.[30] On 7 February 2024, The Election Commission Of India (ECI) awarded the party name and symbol to the faction headed by Ajit Pawar. The faction led by Sharad Pawar will be henceforth known as Nationalist Congress Party (SharadChandra Pawar)[31]

Controversies and criticism edit

The Nationalist Congress Party has been extensively criticized for several reasons such as political corruption, insensitive comments, links to the underworld, and moral policing.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar was accused of having links to the underworld. This was revealed by former Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who had confirmed that after the March 1993 bombings in Bombay, Dawood Ibrahim had called him from London, saying that he was prepared to come to India and stand trial, on the condition that he should not be subjected to any third degree treatment from the police.[32] When Jethmalani had conveyed this to Sharad Pawar, the political leaders in power did not agree to this proposal. As per Jethmalani, their refusal to allow Dawood's return was due to their fears that he would expose their secrets.[33][34]

In May 2005, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers stormed a pub in Pune, Maharashtra, broke window panes, damaged furniture, and thrashed visitors. The move came days after Pune Police had forced five pubs to shut before the closing time of 12:30 am.[35]

On 29 November 2008, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Mumbai, NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil was forced to resign after making insensitive comments after the attack. He was quoted as saying, "They (the terrorists) came to kill 5,000 people but we ensured minimal damage".[36] When asked at a press conference whether the terror strike was an intelligence failure Patil said, "It is not like that. In big cities like this, incidents like this do happen. It's is not a total failure."[37]

On 7 April 2013, NCP leader Ajit Pawar's statement at a speech in Indapur sparked controversy due to its alleged callousness. In response to a 55-day fast by activists protesting the Maharashtra governments inability to provide water during a drought, he asked whether he should "urinate into [the dam]" to make up for the lack of water in it. After a public outcry against his statement, he publicly apologized, saying that the comment was the "biggest mistake of [his] life".[38]

In 2021, Senior Inspector Sachin Vaze, an encounter specialist, was arrested for his involvement in the Antilia bomb scare. Through an investigation, Vaze revealed that he was acting at the behest of Anil Deshmukh, who was then minister of Home Affairs.[39] Vaze and Deshmukh were also involved in collecting extortion money in December 2020 from members of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR).[40] Deshmukh was also under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate for money laundering, following accusations made by the former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.[41]

On 23 February 2022, NCP President and leader Nawab Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case and his alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.[42][43] He was charged and placed under arrest under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after several hours of grilling.

On 14 May 2022, Marathi television actress Ketaki Chitale was arrested by Mumbai Police for allegedly sharing an objectionable post about Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.[44] At the time of her arrest, NCP workers mobbed and attacked her and the officers who had arrested her. Chitale, who was molested, and her modesty was outraged by the NCP workers, and was later granted bail, was booked under IPC sections 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving defamatory matter) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.[45]

Electoral performance edit

General elections edit

Year Lok Sabha Seats
Seats won +/- Votes polled % of
State (seats)
1999 13th Lok Sabha 32
8 / 543 (1%)
 8 8,260,311 2.27%
  • Maharashtra (6)
  • Manipur (1)
  • Meghalaya (1)
2004 14th Lok Sabha 32
9 / 543 (2%)
 1 7,023,175 1.80%
  • Maharashtra (9)
2009 15th Lok Sabha 68
9 / 543 (2%)
  8,521,502 1.19%
  • Maharashtra (8)
  • Meghalaya (1)
2014 16th Lok Sabha 36
6 / 543 (1%)
 3 8,635,558 1.56%
  • Maharashtra (4)
  • Bihar (1)
  • Lakshadweep(1)
2019 17th Lok Sabha 35
5 / 543 (0.9%)
 1 8,483,632 1.39%
  • Maharashtra (4)
  • Lakshadweep(1)

State Legislative Assembly elections edit

Year Vidhan Sabha term Seats
Votes polled +/- Seats
% of
Goa Legislative Assembly
2017 10 20,916   1
1 / 40 (3%)
2022 13 10,846  1
0 / 40 (0%)
Gujarat Legislative Assembly
2017 182 184,815   1
1 / 182 (0.5%)
2022 2 76,949   1
0 / 182 (0%)
Jharkhand Legislative Assembly
2019 7 63,320   1
1 / 81 (1%)
Kerala Legislative Assembly
2016 4 237,408  
2 / 140 (1%)
2021 3 206,130  
2 / 140 (1%)
Maharashtra Legislative Assembly
1999 10th Vidhan Sabha 223 7,425,427  58
58 / 288 (20%)
2004 11th Vidhan Sabha 124 7,841,962  13
71 / 288 (25%)
2009 12th Vidhan Sabha 113 7,420,212  9
62 / 288 (22%)
2014 13th Vidhan Sabha 278 9,122,285  21
41 / 288 (14%)
2019 14th Vidhan Sabha 125 9,216,919  13
54 / 288 (19%)
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly
2018 6 29,287   1
1 / 60 (2%)

List of Rajya Sabha members edit

No. Name Date of Appointment Date of Retirement
1 Praful Patel 05-Jul-2022 02-Jul-2028

See also edit

Notes edit

1.^ Praful Patel from Rajya Sabha and Sunil Tatkare from Lok Sabha.

References edit

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  44. ^ "Who is Ketaki Chitale? The Marathi actor arrested for posting derogatory remarks against Sharad Pawar".
  45. ^ ""Pawar Is Not A Religion": Actor Ketaki Chitale Who Was Jailed For Post".

External links edit