The BJP is of the view that since parties issue a whip for Rajya Sabha polls, Nota option goes 'against the nature of the whip.'
New Delhi: Political arch-rivals — the BJP and the Congress — seem to have joined hands for a change. Both the parties are against the decision to have the None of the Above (Nota) option in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha polls.
While the Congress moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the BJP approached the Election Commission for the removal of Nota, a day after the Congress made a similar demand.
The apex court will hear the plea filed by the Congress’ Gujarat unit on Thursday. The BJP is of the view that since parties issue a whip for Rajya Sabha polls, Nota option goes “against the nature of the whip.”
The BJP has fielded its national president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and former Congress leader Balwantsinh Rajput for the three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat against the lone Congress candidate Ahmed Patel. The election is scheduled on August 8.
There was uproar in Parliament on Tuesday and charges were traded after the Congress raised the issue of Nota in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.
Sources disclosed that a senior Congress leader also had a discussion with a Cabinet minister on the issue earlier in the day.
Chief whip of the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly, Shailesh Manubhai Parmar, in his petition before the apex court, has sought quashing of the August 1 circular issued by the secretary of the Assembly. The circular states that Nota option would be made applicable in the Upper House elections.
The petition has alleged that use of the Nota option violates the provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951, and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
“Without a corresponding amendment in the Act and the rules, any purported administrative action of the Election Commission of India to introduce Nota is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and in fact tainted with mala fide,” it claimed.
The petition alleged that the EC “has become a tool in the hands of the ruling dispensation to facilitate violation of the provisions of the Constitution, the Act and the rules”.
It also said the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) had made a representation before the EC, “highlighting the illegal nature of the circulars” and requesting that, in the interest of free and fair elections, the poll panel refrain from implementing the same. But the state Assembly issued a circular making available the Nota choice.
The plea sought the quashing of circulars dated January 24, 2014, and November 12, 2015, issued by the EC in this regard.
It alleged that the direction was not only “contrary” to the express provisions of Article 80(4) of the Constitution, the RPA and the rules, but also against an apex court judgment in 2006. The petition claimed that the circulars on Nota defeated the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
The direction to have Nota in elections was enforced in January 2014, after the Supreme Court in 2013 made it mandatory to have the option in electronic voting machines (EVMs).
In the Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in the ballot box. Even if an MLA defies the party directive and casts the ballot for someone else or uses the Nota option, the party is free to take disciplinary action, including expulsion. But he continues to be an MLA and his vote cannot be invalidated, according to the EC’s rules.
The BJP, in its memorandum to the EC, said that Nota has become an issue of debate among political parties and, therefore, there should be consensus before the use of Nota in Rajya Sabha elections. It said that since there it was not a secret ballot, Nota is not much of use.
“Therefore, the BJP demands that direction for using Nota option in the election for Rajya Sabha in the state of Gujarat be withdrawn with immediate effect,” the BJP said.
Minister of state of parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Nota is fine in case of direct elections, but in case of Rajya Sabha elections, it should be withdrawn. This option should be eliminated as it creates confusion.”