NOTA For the Win
The most important aspect in the recently concluded Assembly elections in two states, is the emergence of NOTA (None of the Above). While in Maharashtra NOTA came second in three Assembly constituencies, in Haryana it was the deciding factor in at least six seats. Since being introduced in 2013, it is arguably the most noted success of NOTA. It clearly proves that disgruntled electorates are now using NOTA more, which is not a good sign for politicians or forpolitical parties.
When the Lokpal movement was at its peak, demand for NOTA was first raised by veteran social reformer Anna Hazare. Along with NOTA, Hazare also suggested that voters should have the right to recall the non-performing representatives. While the government and the Election Commission (EC) were busy discussing these two demands, the Supreme Court on September 27, 2013, opined that NOTA should be applied and ordered the EC to provide such a button in the electronic votingmachines (EVM).
After, six years of the said judgement by the Supreme Court NOTA’s increasing popularity proves that the idea has widely been accepted by the people. People are now being able to reject the candidates that they don’t seem fit to serve without being absent. If NOTA’s popularity grows more in future, it will definitely put more pressure on the political parties to select acceptable candidates rather than those who join the electoral battle by sheer money or muscle power. It will help to cleanse Indian politics. Further, it will help people to participate more in the election process. Earlier, those who were not in favour of any candidates had no other alternative but to abstain from voting. NOTA has now become their weapon to register their dislikes against the candidates.
But so far we have given a weapon to the electorate in the form of NOTA. To make it more potent, the proposal to consider NOTA as a candidate should be given a serious thought. In its recent form NOTA is simply voicing electorates’ apathy towards the candidates in the fray. But it is unable to change the result. Think about a situation in which one constituency NOTA gets maximum number of votes. As per the Representation of People’s Act, NOTA will not emerge as winner, but the candidate in the second place will be declared winner. It’s time now to say good bye to this practice. If NOTA gets maximum number of votes, no one will represent that particular constituency till fresh election is held. Many critics have opposed the move by saying that it will mean EC will be busy in holding repeated by elections. But this argument is not acceptable. What happens when just after three months of an election a by election is necessitated just because of the fact that the present incumbent resigned and seek reelection from another party? This is exactly what happened in Satara parliamentary constituency in Maharashtra. So, there is simply no harm in considering NOTA as a candidate. The move will definitely make our electoral system more meaningful. If NOTA is provided more teeth, days are not far when we will see NOTA at first place rather than second. Will Anna Hazare once again launch a movement to give NOTA its due?