In a major setback to rebel Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav, the Election Commission on Friday ruled that the group led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is the "real party" and hence entitled to use the party's "Arrow" poll symbol.In its order, the poll panel said: "The respondent group led by Nitish Kumar has demonstrated overwhelming majority support in the legislature wing as well as majority in the National Council of the party, which is the apex-level organisational body of the party."Accordingly, the group led by Nitish Kumar is hereby recognised as the Janata Dal-United in terms of Paragraph 15 of the symbols order.""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," it said.Sharad Yadav, a former President of the JD-U, broke away from Chief Minister and JD-U President Nitish Kumar after the latter joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in July this year.The Election Commission referred to the Supreme Court's verdict in the Sadiq Ali vs Election Commission of India (AIR 1972 SC 187) case wherein the apex court upheld the principle of test of majority support in the organisational and legislative wings.
The Sharad Yadav faction had contended that the election of the 195 National Council members done in October 2016 and submitted to the EC on November 10, 2016 was not valid as the party's constitution was not adhered to in the process.It submitted that the Commission should look into the numerical strength of the National Council of the party constituted in 2013.However, the EC in it order pointed out that "there was no objection from the petitioner against the said list prior to the present application".It further said that the Commission "does not go into disputed questions regarding membership issues and validity of internal elections of the party" and that the aggrieved party can "approach appropriate party forum or competent courts for the purpose"."As per the Commission's record, Nitish Kumar is the President of the party, elected in 2016, as per the information furnished by the party under Sub-section (9) of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951," the poll panel said in its order.