NEW DELHI: Why’s there suddenly such a brouhaha over the ‘None-of-the-Above’ provision in the Rajya Sabha elections? The reason is simple: this is the first time the Gujarat MLAs will avail the option, when they vote on August 8. The State is seeing a contest for a Rajya Sabha seat after nearly two decades, that too between the most important trouble-shooter for the Congress, Ahmed Patel, and his former protégé Balwantsinh Rajput. The latter has joined BJP.
“In the past decade, candidates for Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat have been mostly elected unopposed,’’ confirmed an electoral officer. The Election Commission announced that NOTA will be one of the options before the electors, post notification of the RS polls, and that’s what has upset the Congress.
Apart from the six defections to the BJP, the Congress has other seven others, including Shankarsinh Vaghel, who deserted the party just before the RS polls. A panicky Congress, seeing “conspiracy’’ in every step, approached the Supreme Court to get the NOTA provision removed. The court refused and posted the date of the next hearing to September 11.
While Ahmed Patel claims, “Everything is being done to create confusion and to demoralise the Congress’’; the BJP too is not very happy with NOTA. Going by what a top Cabinet minister indicated, the BJP too would oppose NOTA as a future safeguard.
BJP chief Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani’s elections from the other two Gujarat seats may not be under palpable threat, but the party anticipates four-five of its MLAs, who may not get ticket in the coming the Assembly polls, to press the NOTA button, if they gather courage to defy Shah.
Ahmed Patel, who had to resort to keeping his voters holed up in Karnataka, is expected to face NOTA from seven MLAs who are yet to formally resign from the Congress. As of now, the man himself claims, he “has the numbers, But, NOTA may spoil his calculations.