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Congress moves EC against NOTA option in Rajya Sabha polls

The party alleged that the providing NOTA option would render the system of proportional representation "nugatory and otiose."
Edited by: India TV Politics Desk New Delhi August 02, 2017 7:24 IST
India TV Politics Desk

The Congress on Tuesday moved the Election Commission (EC) demanding that there should be no NOTA (none of the above) option in the ballot papers for the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections.

The party alleged that the providing NOTA option would render the system of proportional representation "nugatory and otiose."

In a petition to the Election Commission, the party said that use of NOTA option during the Rajya Sabha elections was contrary to the mandate of the Constitution, the Representation of People's Act, the conduct of election rules as also judgment of the Supreme Court. 

The party's petition against NOTA comes in the wake of defections in its Gujarat unit ahead of the poll to the upper house in which its senior leader Ahmed Patel is a candidate. 

The Congress has herded its Gujarat MLAs to Karnataka and has accused the BJP of causing defections. The party apparently has apprehensions that Patel may not be able to get the required votes if some of its MLAs opt for NOTA when they cast their ballot. Seven of its Gujarat MLAs have already resigned from the party. 

In its petition, the party said that use of NOTA in "indirect elections" was in direct conflict with and militates against the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. 

"The Commission ought not to make applicable the NOTA provision in the ballot paper in the ensuing Rajya Sabha elections," said the petition, moved by Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Manish Tewari. 

"The system of NOTA makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose and cannot be made applicable in Rajya Sabha elections," the petition added. 

The Congress had earlier in the day raised the issue of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha also. 

Election Commission officials, on their part, said the panel had made it clear in its communications following a Supreme Court judgment of 2013 that NOTA option will be applicable in the Rajya Sabha elections. 

They said the poll panel, in its letter of November 2015 to all chief electoral officers of states, had given revised instructions about the manner of marking NOTA option in elections to Rajya Sabha and state legislative councils.

Earlier in the day, Ahmed Patel kicked up a row after he 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”.  

Patel, the high-profile political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, also questioned the deferring of the Rajya Sabha elections by the poll panel earlier.
 
“First Rajya Sabha election was postponed. Second NOTA was permitted post notification. Reasons best known to the Election Commission,” Patel posted on Twitter, a day after the election authorities announced here that NOTA option can be used for Rajya Sabha polls. 

The EC had earlier declared that RS polls for 10 seats in Gujarat, Goa and West Bengal will be held on June 8. However, on May 22, it announced postponement of the polls which were later rescheduled for August 8.

(With agency inputs)