NEW DELHI: With Gujarat MLAs being provided with “None of the Above” (NOTA) option for election to three Rajya Sabha seats on August 8, the Opposition on Tuesday called it a move by the ruling BJP to rig the elections to the Upper House.
BJP president Amit Shah, union minister Smriti Irani and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel are in the fray for the Rajya Sabha elections.
The matter was raised in the Upper House by deputy leader of the Congress Anand Sharma who said that the decision of introducing the NOTA option to the MLAs in the election was without amending the Constitution or the law, which is mandatory according to the directions of the Election Commission.
“There are elections to the offices of the President and the vice-president. Their ballot paper also must have a NOTA option. The Rajya Sabha elections are directly covered under single transferable vote and preferential system of voting. How can this decision be taken?” said Sharma.
The matter comes at a time when elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat are scheduled and Gujarat Congress is making all attempts to keep its MLAs together.
To keep its flock together, Congress has flown party MLAs to Bengaluru while six have already quit. The NOTA option is expected to make things difficult for Patel’s re-election to Rajya Sabha. The NOTA votes will become invalid which is likely to benefit BJP candidates and dent Patel’s prospects.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “NOTA is only for Gujarat. A provision of rigging has been introduced.”
The issue led to adjournment of Question Hour in Rajya Sabha as all efforts by Chairman Hamid Ansari to pacify the Opposition went unheard. The entire Opposition united on the issue and sought the chairman’s intervention.
BSP leader SC Misra said: “As per the law, it is necessary to show whom you are voting for. If you are not voting for the party for which a mandate has been given by the party, they would be losing his seat. So, how can NOTA be there?” said Misra.
Decision came after notification: Ahmed Patel
AHMEDABAD: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Tuesday questioned the Election Commission’s decision to introduce NOTA in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections in which he is one of the candidates, alleging that it was done “post notification”. He also referred to the delay in scheduling the elections.