In a major relief to Bihar's ruling party, the Election Commission on Friday ruled that the faction led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was Janata Dal (United) and hence was eligible for retaining the arrow symbol.
The Election Commission was hearing a dispute between the JD(U) factions led by Nitish and the party's founder Sharad Yadav. Senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal argued on behalf of the Yadav-led faction while senior advocate Gopal Singh represented Nitish's faction.
The JD(U) is a recognised state party in Bihar.
The EC, in its order issued on Friday, said the group led by Nitish "has demonstrated overwhelming majority support" in the legislature wing as well as the majority in the national council of the party, which is the apex organisational body of the JD(U).
"The group led by Nitish Kumar is hereby recognised as the Janata Dal (United)...Consequently, the group led by Nitish Kumar is entitled to use the reserved symbol 'Arrow' of the party as a recognised State Party in Bihar," the order read.
During a previous hearing in the case on 11 November, Sibal had argued that the party's National Council was the supreme body and not the party's legislative body (MLAs, MLCs and MPs) and that the majority in the National Council was with Yadav.
"Sibal argued that as per a Supreme Court ruling if a party's National Council is disputed, the previous National Council will prevail. Since in this case the National Council of 195 members shown by Nitish is disputed, the previous National Council should be recognised," a JD(U) leader from Nitish's faction told IANS.
He said although the JD(U) was active in 22 states, Nitish showed the National Council consisting of only 195 members from only five states including Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Daman and Diu.
"Of these states, the Kerala unit is with us. As for Jammu and Kashmir, Sibal argued that party elections were shown to be held during the days when there was curfew. How could they hold elections during curfew?
"Also, as many as 30 affidavits submitted by them (Nitish faction) were signed by persons on the 17th day of the month but they have been counter-signed by the notary on 22nd day of the month. How is it possible?" Shrivastav said.
He said all claims by the rival faction of "we are trying to get the symbol frozen are lies and fraud".
"We want to contest the Gujarat Assembly elections on arrow symbol. And we hope to get it by the 14th of this month when the nomination for Gujarat polls start," he said.
After Nitish decided to join hands with the BJP by ending the alliance with Lalu Prasad's RJD and the Congress, senior party leader Yadav accused him of indulging in anti-party activities by going against the decision of the national executive of the party which had resolved to oppose the BJP.
Yadav had maintained that the faction led by him was the real JD(U). His faction's working president Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava moved the poll panel staking claim over the party and its election symbol.
Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 17:38:50 IST