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
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.