Cong Challenges NOTA Option In Guj RS Election

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Gandhinagar: The Congress has challenged the Election Commission’s notification allowing ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option in Gujarat Rajya Sabha election in the Supreme Court, which will hear the case on Thursday.

In its plea, the Congress has claimed there is no sanction in law to introduce NOTA in a Rajya Sabha election and has called the government action illegal. “The government has no constitutional backing or support of a statute,” it says.

“The BJP wants to win the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election using ‘saam, daam, dand, bhed’ (by hook or crook). But the truth will win. Ahmed Patel will win. The Congress earlier fought the white British, it is now win against the dark British,” Congress spokesperson Ranndeep S Surjewala told India Today.

On Tuesday, the Congress had moved the Election Commission and demanded that the provision of NOTA should not be made in the ballot papers for the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections. The Congress argued that NOTA would render the system of proportional representation “nugatory and otiose.”

In its 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.

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 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 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.

To save further defections in the party, the Congress has herded its Gujarat MLAs to Karnataka and has accused the BJP of buying its leaders by using money and intimidation.

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.

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