After 46 elections to 150 seats of the Rajya Sabha since 2014, the Congress is now protesting the use of NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections. Whether any of the voters preferred NOTA in these elections is not known since the ECI does not publish detailed results of the RS elections.
The Supreme Court refused to stay the notification of the Election Commission of India (ECI) allowing NOTA option in the Rajya Sabha (RS) biennial elections in Gujarat & West Bengal. The SC however agreed to look into the issue of the applicability of NOTA in RS and Legislative Council election that are based on the proportional representation system by means of STV. It has to be noted that the Congress party is opposing NOTA in RS elections after 20 different elections for the Rajya Sabha after 2014, the first time when NOTA was used in RS elections. It is intriguing to note that the Congress party is opposing the decision of the ECI that was first made in 2014.
NOTA in Rajya Sabha Elections
The Supreme Court in September 2013 directed the ECI to make the NOTA option available to the voters. Later in 2015, the ECI also issued instructions for a dedicated NOTA symbol on ballot papers. In January 2014, the ECI wrote to all the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of states directing them to make the NOTA option available in ballot papers for Rajya Sabha elections also.
This was reiterated by the ECI again in 2015 with detailed illustrations on validity of markings made by voters in the light of the NOTA option in the ballot paper.
18 contested biennial elections to RS since 2014
As per the data compiled by the ECI, a total of 46 biennial elections for 150 seats were held to the Rajya Sabha between 2014 and 2016. Out of these, 18 biennial elections were contested for 57 seats. For all these 57 seats, NOTA was used. NOTA was also used in 3 bye-elections between 2014 and 2017.
The Congress party did not oppose the use of NOTA in any of these elections during the 3-year period. But its legislator from Gujarat has now filed a writ in the SC contesting the use of NOTA in Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections.
Was NOTA preferred in any of these elections?
Unlike the detailed results published by the ECI for Lok Sabha & Assembly elections, detailed results for the Rajya Sabha & Legislative Council elections are not published by the ECI on its website. Hence there is no publicly available information on whether NOTA was preferred by any of the voters in these elections. It is high time the ECI proactively publishes the detailed results of these elections including the individual preference of voters on its website.