SET­BACK FOR CONGRESS AT­TEMPT RS Polls in Gu­jarat to have Nota Op­tion as SC Re­fuses Stay

At least 29 Up­per House elec­tions held with Nota op­tion since 2014, say EC in­sid­ers

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­group.com

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thurs­day re­fused to stop the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion from of­fer­ing the Nota (None of the Above) op­tion in the Au­gust 8 elec­tion to three Ra­jya Sabha seats from Gu­jarat. Re­ject­ing Congress’ plea to stay the EC de­ci­sion, the court said it would ex­am­ine whether the choice could be used in in­di­rect elec­tions in Septem­ber.

There are four can­di­dates for the three seats from the BJP-ruled state, in­clud­ing BJP chief Amit Shah, cen­tral min­is­ter Sm­riti Irani and se­nior Congress leader Ahmed Pa­tel. Congress is on a sticky wicket in the state with some MLAs re­cently leav­ing the party. It has also been ac­cus­ing BJP of try­ing to poach more leg­is­la­tures be­fore the RS elec­tion.

In­the­court,theCon­gress­saidus­ing the Nota op­tion in the RS elec­tions would lead to cor­rup­tion. “If you don’t stay Nota, peo­ple will give money for Nota,” se­nior ad­vo­cate Kapil Sibal told a bench, com­pris­ing jus­tic- es­Di­pakMisra,Ami­tavaRoyandAM Khan­wilkar. Ap­pear­ing for Gu­jarat Congress chief whip Shailesh Manub­hai Par­mar, he ar­gued EC’s Au­gust 1 no­ti­fi­ca­tion was against ruleswhich­man­datethat­ev­eryMLA vote for the party can­di­date in the RS elec­tio­nand­showhisvote­tothechief whip. The Nota op­tion would ren­der his vote in­valid, he con­tended.

The bench led by Jus­tice Misra ini­tial­ly­won­dered­whyCon­gresshad­sat on the is­sue when EC had first in­tro­duced Nota way back in 2014, af­ter a top court rul­ing ask­ing it to do so.

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, through se­nior ad­vo­cate Ashok De­sai, said sev­eral elec­tions had since been held where Nota was given as an op­tion. Com­mis­sion in­sid­ers said at least 29 Ra­jya Sabha elec­tions had al­ready been held on this ba­sis.

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