The Bharatiya Janata Party said on Wednesday that the Congress's appeal to voters to press the None of the Above, or NOTA button, in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city was an attack on democracy, reported PTI.

State BJP chief VD Sharma claimed that asking people to choose the None of the Above option was a crime in a democracy. “The Congress leadership wants to weaken democracy,” he alleged.

On April 30, Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari urged voters in Indore to press the None of the Above button to teach the BJP a lesson after the Congress’ candidate, Akshay Kanti Bam, withdrew his nomination and joined the Hindutva party. Polling in Indore will be held on May 13.

Bam withdrew his nomination and joined the BJP five days after a sessions court in Indore directed the police to add an attempt-to-murder charge against him in a 17-year-old dispute over a land deal.

Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders have claimed that the BJP forced Bam’s defection by influencing the attempt-to-murder charge and by threatening to file other cases against him.

The Indore Lok Sabha constituency has been held by the BJP since 1989. The Hindutva party’s Shankar Lalwani won the seat by more than 5.4 lakh votes in 2019.

Congress complains to EC against BJP councillor

The Congress on Wednesday complained to the Election Commission after videos emerged on social media showing BJP councillor Sandhya Yadav removing a poster from an autorickshaw that urged voters to choose the None of the Above option, according to PTI.

Commenting on the video, Congress leader Shobha Oza asked: “Why is the BJP, which claims it will win [the Indore seat] by eight lakh votes, so worried and scared about NOTA?”

Yadav, however, claimed she was carrying out her “duty of being a conscientious citizen” and would continue to do so. She contended that promoting the voting option was not in the interest of democracy.