Nationalist Congress Party founder Sharad Pawar on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Election Commission order that recognised the faction led by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar as the real Nationalist Congress Party, The Indian Express reported.

The petition was filed by Sharad Pawar in his personal capacity, the newspaper reported.

The Ajit Pawar-led group had filed a caveat before the top court last week, seeking a hearing if the Sharad Pawar faction challenged the poll body’s order.

On February 6, the Election Commission recognised the Ajit Pawar faction as the real Nationalist Congress Party and allocated it the “clock” symbol.

In July, Ajit Pawar, along with several party MLAs, joined Maharashtra’s coalition government comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Ajit Pawar then became the deputy chief minister.

The move led to a split in the Nationalist Congress Party, with one faction supporting Sharad Pawar and the other backing Ajit Pawar.

The polling body said that while it had used the “test of aims and objectives of the party Constitution” and the “test of party Constitution” as well, its decision was based on the “test of legislative majority” as the first two tests proved inconclusive.

The Election Commission also allowed Sharad Pawar’s faction to use a new name for the February 27 polls for six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra. It assigned the name “Nationalist Congress Party – Sharadchandra Pawar” to Sharad Pawar’s faction on February 7.

The polling body’s announcement on Tuesday was similar to its February 2023 decision to recognise the faction led by Shinde as the real Shiv Sena and allocate it the bow and arrow symbol.

The Shiv Sena had split in June 2022 when Shinde and a group of party MLAs rebelled against the former Maharashtra government – a coalition of the united Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. At that time, Thackeray was the chief minister.

The Thackeray faction had also challenged the Election Commission’s decision in the Shiv Sena case in the Supreme Court.

On January 29, the Supreme Court had extended the deadline given to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar to February 15 to decide on disqualification petitions against MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party faction led by Ajit Pawar.