Rajya Sabha elections: Gujarat Congress issues whip

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 01, 2017

Apprehensive of the possibility of rebel Congress MLAs exercising the NOTA option, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Gujarat has warned of disciplinary action if any party MLA was found violating the whip issued for the August 8 Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.

The CLP’s new Chief Whip Shailesh Parmar said on Tuesday that party legislators had been directed to remain present and vote only for Ahmed Patel, who is the Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Parmar slammed the ruling BJP for “spreading rumours” that a violation of the whip does not invite disciplinary action against legislators.

The whip has been issued to all 51 Congress MLAs, including Shankarsinh Vaghela, who, despite resigning from the party and as Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, continues to be a party legislator.

But apprehensive of possible cross-voting, the exercise of NOTA and the uncertain outcome of the poll, the Congress high-command has now sought to shield the Gandhi family from the fallout if Patel loses the poll. Sources said party bigwigs were trying to downplay the election as a ‘routine’ one, describing Patel as yet another party leader.

Meanwhile, Opposition members in the Rajya Sabha alleged that a decision had been made, without amending the Constitution or the law, that the NOTA option would be available to the MLAs for the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat. “The Representation of the People Act has not been amended. But, NOTA has been introduced,” said the Congress’ deputy leader in the House, Anand Sharma.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the decision was taken as per a direction of the Supreme Court. “That judgement came several years before this government came to power. The Election Commission, pursuant to the judgment, has issued some notification under Article 324. Article 324 covers all the elections in this country” Jaitley asked.

Sharma argued that the Rajya Sabha elections are held under single transferable vote and preferential system of voting. “How can the Election Commission, without looking into this, do this?” he countered. “The only authority which can set aside the order of the Election Commission is the Court,” Jaitley replied.

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Published on August 01, 2017
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