Timeline: From One Rebellion To Another, Tracing The Journey Of NCP

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was born out of the rebellion of a few Congress leaders. Now, with Ajit Pawar's rebellion, the party is split into two factions.

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NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule at a 'Save the Constitution' meet held during the national convention of the NCP women's wing, at the YB Chavan Auditorium, on June 20, 2018 in Mumbai, India. Photo: Getty Images

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has been in disarray since July 2023 when Ajit Pawar rebelled against his uncle and party patriarch Sharad Pawar to cause a split in the party. A tug-of-war ensued as both factions had staked claim to the party name and symbol. However, the Election Commission of India ruled in favour of Ajit Pawar’s faction, declaring it the “real” NCP. The Supreme Court, too, doubled down on the decision although adding that it is a temporary decision. Ajit Pawar joined hands with the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena (Shinde) coalition in Maharashtra and became the second deputy chief minister. Subsequently, he staked claim to NCP’s original name and symbol of a ‘wall clock’. 

While the situation between the two NCP factions remains volatile, Outlook looks at the timeline of the party, tracing the key milestones and political developments from its inception to now.

1999: The Nationalist Congress Party was founded on June 10 by Sharad Pawar, PA Sangma, and Tariq Anwar after being expelled from Congress.

October 1999: Despite an unceremonious exit, NCP joined the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to form government in Maharashtra.

2000: The Election Commission recognised NCP as a national party.

2004: NCP joined UPA government at Centre led by Manmohan Singh. NCP founder Sharad Pawar served as the Agriculture Minister for both five-year terms.

2005: In May that year, NCP workers stormed a pub in Pune, Maharashtra, broke window panes, damaged furniture, and attacked people.

2004-2009: NCP’s name became linked to a number of scams, including a wheat procurement scam, land scams and scams linked to rising prices of sugar, bean, and onion. Sharad Pawar was the Union agriculture minister during this tenure. He was also accused of negligence to farmer issues resulting in suicides.

2012: In September, there were accusations that there had been misappropriation Rs 70,000 crores in an irrigation scam unearthed in Maharashtra’s Economic Survey report. Several NCP ministers including Ajit Pawar, who was in charge of the state’s irrigation department, were named.

2014: UPA lost to Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Lok Sabha elections in April and May 2014 and NCP was out of government.

October 2014: Just ahead of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election, NCP broke its alliance with Congress. 

2019: In April, NCP joined hands with Congress once again to contest the Lok Sabha elections. Similarly, Shiv Sena had joined hands with BJP. Shiv Sena, as part of NDA, won a landslide victory. 

November 2019: Differences between BJP and Shiv Sena led to the collapse of the Maharashtra government. NCP came back to power as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, in coalition with Sena and Congress.

2022: On February 23, senior NCP leader Nawab Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case, along with alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

June-July, 2022: Shiv Sena split into two factions with Eknath Shinde’s rebelling against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and forming government with the support of BJP and a section of Sena MLAs. Subsequently, Sharad Pawar dissolved almost all units of NCP within and outside the state. Pawar became the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

2023: NCP lost its state party status in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya after failure to get Lok Sabha seats in these states for successive elections.

May 2023: Sharad Pawar announced that he will step down from the party president position. However, he took back the decision citing “strong sentiments” among his partyworkers.

July 2023: Ajit Pawar rebelled against his uncle, along with several supporters and joined the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP government to become the deputy chief minister for the fourth time.

2024: On February 7, the ECI awarded the NCP’s name and the clock symbol to the faction headed by Ajit Pawar, while Sharad Pawar’s faction will be known as Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Chandra Pawar). It was allotted the symbol of a 'man blowing turha (trumpet)'.