Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday tore into Congress party and accused the grand old party of levelling false and baseless allegations that the provision of NOTA (None of the Above) was included on the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the sake of Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat. Prasad strongly condemned Congress’ campaign against the saffron party and said that the provision of NOTA is active from past three years and came into existence in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. “The provision of NOTA is prevalent from past three years. They are getting antsy over the issues unnecessarily. The members of Rajya Sabha who are voicing their opinion against NOTA have been elected when the provision was active,” said Prasad.
“This provision of NOTA was brought under practice in UPA regime. They are unnecessarily blaming the BJP. We condemn this propaganda of Congress against us. We strongly refute the campaign of the Congress party that the provision of NOTA was included on the behest of the BJP for the sake of Gujarat elections,” he added.
The Supreme Court earlier today refused to stay use of None of the Above (NOTA) option in the upcoming Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls to be held on August 8.
The apex court also pulled up the Gujarat Congress, which filed plea seeking stay on NOTA, for raising question over the use of NOTA option and said as to why it is raising the issue so late when the Election Commission had issued the notification in January 2014. “Why are you so late in raising the question as Election Commission had issued notification in January 2014? the apex court asked the Congress.
The Congress Party yesterday moved the apex court against the Election Commission challenging the introduction of NOTA option in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat. The Congress Party has been protesting since the Election Commission notified that NOTA option will be available for the first time in upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat.
The elections of the Upper House do not take place by secret ballot as the voter has to show the marked ballot to the party’s polling agent before putting it in the ballot box. Despite its six Gujarat MLAs joining the BJP, Congress is leaving no stone unturned to secure the Rajya Sabha berth for its leader Ahmed Patel.
It has also decided to issue a whip to all the Congress MLAs, including Shankersinh Vaghela, who resigned last month to ensure that Ahmed Patel is voted back into the Rajya Sabha.
The BJP has fielded party president Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput for the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled to be held on August 8.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) has released a list of Rajya Sabha polls and bypolls that it has held with NOTA option since November 2014. The Supreme Court in its judgement on September 27, 2014 directed that the option of NOTA shall be provided on the ballot papers or Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The instructions were issued by the EC in October 2013 of providing NOTA as an option on the ballot paper after the name of the last candidate, whereas in January 2014 EC issued directions that the option of NATO shall be applicable in the elections to the Rajya Sabha.