BJP says remove NOTA, Election Commission says it's effective since 2014

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BJP echoed the Congress view and urged EC to remove NOTA provision
BJP echoed the Congress view and urged EC to remove NOTA provision

New Delhi : As the BJP on Wednesday echoed the Congress view and urged the Election Commission (EC) to remove NOTA provision from the August 8 election to three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat, the poll panel said the option was in force since January 2014.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation led by its General Secretary Bhupender Yadav and Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi submitted a memorandum to the EC which read: "The use of None Of The Above (NOTA) option during the Rajya Sabha election has become an issue of debate among political parties. Therefore, a proper consensus should be made before NOTA is used in the Rajya Sabha election." 

It said since secret ballot was not provided for this election, NOTA will not serve any purpose.

Citing a Supreme Court judgment, the memorandum said: "It is also clear that there is no specific direction from the Supreme Court for the use of NOTA for elections to the Rajya Sabha."

It said the Election Commission had acted beyond apex court directions by issuing a letter dated January 24, 2014, and further direction for NOTA use in the August 8 Rajya Sabha poll.

"Therefore, the party demands that the letter dated January 24, 2014, as well as the direction for using NOTA option in Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat be withdrawn with immediate effect," the memorandum said.

The BJP demand came a day after the Congress on Tuesday created a ruckus in Parliament over NOTA provision in the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.

On Tuesday, a Congress delegation met the poll panel, demanding that NOTA provision should not be put in ballot papers for the August 8 elections, as it would render the system of proportional representation "nugatory and otiose".

Election Commission officials on Wednesday made it clear that in pursuance of the Supreme Court's direction, the panel had issued instructions on October 11, 2013, for providing NOTA option on ballot papers after the name of the last candidate.

The commission said that it issued directions on January 24, 2014, that NOTA shall also be applicable to the Rajya Sabha elections, and orders to this effect were made vide a circular. 

"Immediately thereafter, biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha were held in 16 states. Instructions regarding NOTA option where applicable from then onwards. Biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha covering all states and 25 bye-elections to the upper house have been held since then," the commission said.