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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Opposition protests NOTA option for Rajya Sabha elections

Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is the Leader of the House, said that from what he understood, there was a Supreme Court judgement which provided for the NOTA option

india Updated: Aug 01, 2017 23:18 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing monsoon session, in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing monsoon session, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

The Congress stalled Parliament’s Upper House on Tuesday and moved the Election Commission against the option of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha polls, saying the provision doesn’t have the constitutional validity for an indirect election.

The Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi party too opposed NOTA, short for None of the Above, from ballot papers for the August 8 election. The option allows voters to reject all candidates in an election.

“It vitiates the election ... Constitution has not been amended. Representation of Peoples Act has not been amended. NOTA has been introduced ... Unless Constitution is amended, how can this be done?” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha.

In a memorandum to the poll panel, the Congress said use of NOTA in indirect elections contradicts the Constitution-mandated system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.

Simply put, elected MLAs of legislative assemblies of states and Union territories elect Rajya Sabha members.

Of the 10 vacant Rajya Sabha seats in various states, only Gujarat will record a contest. Gujarat has three vacancies and the ruling BJP has fielded party chief Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput. Shah and Irani are set to win, given the BJP’s numbers in the assembly.

For the third seat, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel is up against Rajput.

Patel needs the support of 45 MLAs after six Congress lawmakers resigned amid horse-trading charges against the BJP, bringing the party’s strength in the assembly to 51. The Congress has flown 42 MLAs to a resort near Bengaluru to keep its flock together before the crucial vote.

“First Rajya Sabha election was postponed, Second NOTA was permitted post-notification. Reasons best known to the Election Commission,” Patel tweeted on Tuesday.

For its part, the Election Commission clarified that the provision for NOTA in the Rajya Sabha polls has been allowed since 2013 after a Supreme Court judgment.

A column for NOTA?was there in the ballot paper used for filling vacancies in?Karnataka in 2016, poll officials said.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley too referred to the Supreme Court judgment allowing NOTA to counter the Opposition.

“The judgment came several years before this government came to power. The Election Commission pursuant to that judgment had issued some notification under Article 324. Article 324 covers all elections in this country and, therefore, that’s a circular which they issued, not now, but earlier,” he said.

But the Congress insisted that NOTA would violate the party’s whip to its legislators in Gujarat.

“The whip that all the Congress MLAs have to participate in poll and vote for Ahmed Patel, writing ‘1’ ahead of his name, stays,” party leader Shailesh Parmar said.

“The BJP’s rumour that voting NOTA is not violation of rules is false,” he added.

(With inputs from Hiral Dave in Ahmedabad)

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 20:51 IST

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