With the Election Commission deciding to add ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ option for the upcoming polls for Rajya Sabha, members of Congress and other opposition parties forced adjournments of the proceedings, questioning the provision for these elections, PTI reported today. Heavy weights like BJP chief Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and veteran Congressman Ahmed Patel are all set to contest in the Rajya Sabha polls from Gujarat.
Soon after the Upper House of the Parliament Assembled at noon on Tuesday, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the decision to provide the NOTA option was taken without amending the Constitution or the law as directed by the Election Commission.
“It vitiates the election… Constitution has not been amended. Representation of People Act has not been amended. NOTA has been introduced…unless Constitution is amended, how can this be done,” the PTI quoted Sharma as asking.
He further said that vacancies are notified by the House and also asked how a new provision could be introduced in between. Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansarithen suggested the matter be taken up with the EC and tried to proceed with the Question Hour. The Opposition, however, kept on raising the matter.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley then tried to pacify the Opposition parties by saying that from what he understood, there was a judgement by the Supreme Court which provided the NOTA. “The judgement came several years before this government came to power. The Election Commission pursuant to that judgement had issued some notification under Article 324. Article 324 covers all election in this country and therefore that’s a circular which they issued, not now, but earlier,” Jaitley was quoted as saying by the agency.
Not satisfied with answers, the Congress leaders continued with their protests, with Sharma saying that the elections to the offices of the President and the Vice President were related and the ballot paper for the former too should have had the option of NOTA. His party colleague and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha also stood up and said the matter was serious and wanted to know if there was a separate Constitution for Gujarat as compared to other states in the country.
In the meantime, an official of the Election Commission told PTI on the condition of anonymity, that the provision to have the NOTA option in the Rajya Sabha polls came into being in 2014, after an apex court order said that NOTA button should be installed on electronic voting machines.