- Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat to be held on August 8
- Congress had moved Supreme Court seeking to put elections on hold
- Congress and the BJP have both opposed NOTA
The Congress and the BJP have both opposed NOTA, which allows a voter to reject all candidates, saying it is against the ethos of indirect elections.
The Congress had said in the Supreme Court that "there is no constitutional provision for NOTA in the Rajya Sabha polls and no order from the Election Commission".
The Election Commission had refused to review its decision to have NOTA, saying it was not a "new direction" and was introduced in 2014.
The Congress objection to NOTA is being seen in the context of its prestige battle in Gujarat, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's aide Ahmed Patel is seeking another Rajya Sabha term from the state.
Six lawmakers have quit the Congress and to prevent more defections, the party flew over 40 legislators to Bengaluru, where they are staying in a luxury resort. Desperately trying to keep its flock together, the party has accused Gujarat's ruling BJP of trying every trick possible to break the Congress and poach its lawmakers ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls and also the state election later this year.
The Congress alleges that NOTA, which will be available for the first time in a Rajya Sabha election, is an attempt to influence the result in Gujarat.
If a lawmaker defies the party and votes for someone else or uses NOTA, he cannot be disqualified.
The party is free to take disciplinary action like expelling the member, who will still remain a lawmaker and his vote cannot be cancelled, according to Election Commission rules.
In Rajya Sabha polls, legislators have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.
"The use of NOTA in an indirect election is contrary to the mandate of the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act and election rules," the Congress insists. Its leaders have been trying to press the point home.
"First Rajya Sabha election was postponed. Second NOTA was permitted post notification. Reasons best known to the Election Commission," tweeted Ahmed Patel.