NOTA in the Rajya Sabha polls: an explainer

Here’s why the BJP and Congress are against the implementation of NOTA in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls

August 03, 2017 06:19 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 12:35 pm IST

In Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.

In Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, ruled that the ‘None Of The Above’ option introduced by the Election Commission three years ago, would stay put for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections 2017.

Here is a short explainer on the RS elections and the NOTA option.

When is the RS election?

Around 10 Rajya Sabha MPs are retiring in 2017, of which one was from Goa, three are from Gujarat and six are from West Bengal. Congress’ Shantaram Naik, who held the RS seat from Goa, retired on July 18, 2017. The election was won by BJP’s Vijay Tendulkar.

From Gujarat, Congress’ Ahmed Patel and BJP’s Smriti Irani and Dilip Pandya will retire alongside six others from WB on August 18, 2017.

The Gujarat elections are seen as particularly important as it also involves BJP leader Amit Shah, who is contesting for Ahmed Patel’s seat.

What was the EC notification?

The Election Commission had issued a circular in January 2014 that the provisions of NOTA be included in the Rajya Sabha elections too, after it was included as one of the options in the Electronic Voting Machines in 2013 .

From 2014 onwards, biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha have been held in 16 States, and 25 bye-elections to the Rajya Sabha have been held, according to the EC circular issued on August 2, 2017 . In all these elections, instructions regarding NOTA have been applicable .

How does the NOTA work in RS elections?

In Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.

If a voter (MLA) defies the party directive and votes for someone else or uses NOTA option, he cannot be disqualified as a legislator.

But the party is free to take disciplinary action including expulsion. The defiant voter can continue to be an MLA and his vote can also not be invalidated for defying party directions, the EC rules say.

Why are the Congress and BJP against it?

Both parties are against the NOTA option being introduced in the RS elections.

Congress approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday about this claiming it was violative of the Constitution and electoral laws, but the EC just pointed to its 2014 circular and said it was not a new direction. The Congress is alleging that the NOTA option has been brought with an aim of influencing the result of Gujarat RS poll, where the party has been facing several defections from its MLAs . Party members even created a ruckus in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with angry members forcing multiple adjournments of the proceedings.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress on Thursday, argued that NOTA would be a "recipe for corruption" and “it would be seen as if the court was turning its back on corruption”.

A day after that, the BJP approached the EC, claiming that since the usage of NOTA has become a matter of debate, a proper consensus was first needed before its implementation.

The party said that since there was no secrecy for the voting in Rajya Sabha election, the purpose of NOTA was not much of use. “Therefore, the BJP demands that direction for using NOTA option in the election for Rajya Sabha in the state of Gujarat be withdrawn with immediate effect,” the BJP said.

(With inputs from PTI)

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.