Strengthen NOTA To Strengthen Democracy - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Strengthen NOTA to Strengthen Democracy

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By The Editorial Team Updated: May 02, 2024 12:07 am

A re-evaluation of NOTA’s role in the Indian election process has become necessary not only to provide a potent option to the electorate but also to cleanse the electoral system. NOTA, which was introduced in 2013 on the directions of the Supreme Court as demanded by several social organisations led by famous social reformist Anna Hazare, was a landmark step that provided the right to the voters to reject all the candidates by simply pressing the NOTA button on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). But over the years, it has been found that the negative voting system is falling short of delivering the desired results. For instance, even after getting the maximum number of votes, NOTA will never be declared elected. On the contrary, the person securing the most votes after NOTA will be declared the winner. Pointing out this particular shortcoming in NOTA, a plea has recently been submitted in the Supreme Court urging the highest legal body in the country to make re-poll mandatory in the event that NOTA comes first. Before deciding on the plea, the apex court issued a notice to the Election Commission asking the poll body to clarify its position in this regard.

Since its introduction, NOTA has virtually remained a toothless tiger, as it lacks the teeth either to empower the voters or to make the political parties accountable. As a result, the Indian electoral system is still suffering from several deficiencies, which should be addressed without any further delay. In this context, the recent Supreme Court judgement on counting VVPAT slips attached to EVMs should be mentioned. The apex court has taken effective measures to redress the grievances of those who are finding fault with EVMs. The apex court’s order to count VVPAT slips if any of the top candidates raises doubts about the poll outcome is a judicious one, as counting VVPAT slips can take us back to the ballot paper days when we had to wait 24 to 36 hours for the election results to be declared. Beyond a doubt, the introduction of EVMs has drastically reduced the counting time, as now we get to know poll results quickly.

Thus, it is expected that the Supreme Court will come up with a similar judicious understanding regarding NOTA. It is the right time to make it more effective. If NOTA becomes a fictional nominee, the Indian electoral system will undergo a sea change. Firstly, it will reduce the influence of money and muscle power in elections, responsible for earning a bad name for the Indian voting system, which has become synonymous with booth capturing and rigging. Secondly, it will make all the political parties cautious about choosing the candidates and will give preference to those who have unblemished records. This will definitely give a new look to politics in the country as many new and credible faces will join the electoral fray instead of history-sheeters or persons with criminal records, which in turn will significantly improve the political discourse of the country. So, strengthening NOTA will actually mean strengthening democracy in India.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: May 02, 2024 12:07:48 am
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