The Congress in recent days has been growing very anxious about the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, especially in Gujarat. The elections in that state have become a prestige issue for the party as one of its candidates seeking reelection is Ahmed Patel, the political adviser to the Congress party considered a crony of Sonia Gandhi.
Things started getting complicated for the Gujarat Congress when its MLAs resigned from the party and some even crossed over to the BJP. This would have meant that Patel risked losing his seat, and to avoid the embarrassment the party decided to fly out all its remaining MLAs to a Bangalore resort in order to prevent them from crossing over.
If this wasn’t enough drama, the Congress decided that it had a problem against the ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option, which would also be applicable in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. On Tuesday, the Congress party decided to knock the doors of the Election Commission to object to its use. The party claimed that use of NOTA violated the Constitution and electoral laws.
When the Election Commission did not pay heed, Shailesh Manubhai Parmar, the Chief Whip of Gujarat Congress decided to petition the Supreme Court regarding the matter but the Apex court too has now blasted the Congress over this issue.
As it turns out, the use of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha election is not something that has been envisioned recently. The Election Commission in a notice dated January 2014 [PDF] had announced that the NOTA option would be applicable in the Rajya Sabha election. Soon on 7th February 2014, Rajya Sabha elections were held in 16 different states (including Gujarat) which contained the NOTA option.
Since then, Rajya Sabha elections have been held in all the states of India with the NOTA option, but the Congress party, during whose tenure the notification was issued, had failed to lodge any protest against it, until now.
This was pointed out by the Election Commission on Tuesday and when asked about its 3.5 years delay, Congress leader Manish Tewari stated that “It missed the collective wisdom of the Parliament”. Even though Congress’s sudden aversion to NOTA wasn’t based on rational facts, rather than acknowledging its delay, the party tried to insinuate that the Election Commission was biased:
Surprised by the timing of the Election Commission’s decision mandating NOTA for Rajya Sabha elections . Nice (N) of(O) them(T) Amit Shah(A)
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) August 1, 2017
Now Congress’s game might finally be up now as even the Supreme Court today declined to stay the use of NOTA in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. The bench also blasted the petitioner for such a long delay in approaching the court:
Use of NOTA option in RS polls- SC asks Gujarat Congress: why are you so late in raising the question as EC issued notification in Jan 2014?
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 3, 2017