The Nota option was on the ballot in many Rajya Sabha elections, but most parties, including the BJP, found no reason to object.
There’s nothing contentious really about today’s vice-presidential election — there are just two candidates and the electors are MPs of both Houses of Parliament. It is Tuesday’s election of three Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat that has thrown up any number of controversies on alleged votes-for-cash offers to MLAs, with the Congress taking refuge in “resort politics” to insulate its legislators from being lured by inducements to defy the party whip on which way to vote. It’s in this context that the party sought relief in the Supreme Court from the Nota (None of the Above) provision in a poll where only legislators vote. The three-judge bench not only refused outright to stay the Nota directive but also pulled up the petitioner for its plea after it found the provision perfectly acceptable when the Election Commission introduced it in 2014.
The Nota option was on the ballot in many Rajya Sabha elections, but most parties, including the BJP, found no reason to object. Now that its implications, allowing a negative vote against the party candidate without invoking disqualification under the anti-defection law, are becoming clear in a contentious poll, the parties are waking up to the hazards. While it’s true both major parties — the BJP too went to the EC with its objections — are seen as opportunistic in raking up the issue, there may be grounds for a larger view on the underlying principles of voting in an indirect election. This goes beyond the poll to pick Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat. The larger picture must be studied before arriving at any conclusion.