Nitish Kumar wins the JD(U) battle over Party name and Symbol

Election Commission of India: Settling the controversy that arose after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ended his ‘Mahagathbandhan’ i.e. the alliance with the non-BJP parties and decided to join hands with BJP, the Election Commission of India (EC) held that the group led by Nitish Kumar has demonstrated overwhelming majority support in the legislature wing as well as the majority in the National Council of the Party and hence, it should be recognised as the Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] in terms of Paragraph-‘l5 of the Symbols Order. EC also said that JD(U) was entitled to use the reserved symbol ‘Arrow’ of the Party as a recognised State Party in Bihar.

The corum of Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti, along with Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and OP Rawat, was hearing the application filed by Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava wherein he had alleged that the alliance of the group led by Nitish Kumar with BJP was against the principles of the Party and that his group should be allotted the ‘Arrow’ symbol. The matter was heard on urgent basis in the light of the upcoming Gujarat Legislative Assembly Elections.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chhotubhai Vasava, submitted that the Commission should look into the numerical strength of the National Council of the Party, as constituted in 2013, and which consisted of 1098 members, and who attended the National Convention of the Party on 23-04-2016. On the other hand, Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Nitish Kumar, submitted that the present strength the National Council of the Party consisted of 195 members as reconstituted on the basis of the organizational elections held in October,2016, out of which 138 members had filed individual affidavits showing support to the Nitish Kumar led group.

Applying the principle of test of majority support in the organisational and legislative wings laid down by Supreme Court in Sadiq Ali v. Election Commission of lndia, (1972) 4 SCC 664,  EC recognised Nitish Kumar led group as JD(U) and allowed it to use the symbol ‘Arrow’ in the upcoming Gujarat Elections. [Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava v. Nitish Kumar, Dispute Case No. 5 of 2017, order dated 17.11.2017]

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