NOTA - a long way to go

The new right would act as a tool for people to not just reject the wrong choice given by political parties but would also increase the faith in democracy in the time to come

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | December 10, 2013



"None of the above" option, introduced by the Election Commission for the first time as per a supreme court order, has made a modest debut in the assembly polls.

The option was exercised on a wide scale in Chhattisgarh, particularly in the Naxal-affected constituencies. The turnout in favour of NOTA in the state was recorded at 3.07% of the total valid votes.

While it was 1.92 % in Rajasthan, 1.9 % in Madhya Pradesh and just 0.63% of the valid votes in Delhi.

In absolute terms, 49,892 voters in Delhi pressed the NOTA button, as against 4, 01,058 in Chhattisgarh, 5, 88,609 in Rajasthan and 6, 43,144 in Madhya Pradesh.

NOTA button secured the highest hits in Chhattisgarh's Naxal-infested Chitrakot seat with 10,848 votes.

In many constituencies of the state which recorded a close contest, NOTA votes exceeded the victory margin. In fact the margin of victory in at least 45 seats of all the four states was less than the votes NOTA secured.

In Delhi, in RK Puram, AAP candidate Shazia Ilmi lost by 326 votes, even as 528 voters settled for NOTA.

In Rajasthan's Lalsot, National People's Party founder Kirori Lal Meena, won by less than 500 votes where almost 4,000 voters chose NOTA.
Similarly in Madhya Pradesh, BJP's Parul Kesri won by only 141 votes while NOTA count stood at over 1,500. In Rewa of Madhya Pradesh, BSP's candidate lost against BJP by mere 276 votes while 2,215 voters opted for NOTA.

People voted for NOTA even when it was clear from the beginning that it would not make any impact on the outcome of the polls. Even if more than 50 per cent of the voters opt for the negative voting, it will not change the result or prevent a candidate from winning.

If the election figures are an indicator, NOTA, contesting its first election, is still very away from making an impact. But we need to understand that it was being used for the first time and still people opted for it.

Though the election commission approved the new right to reject a long time ago and claimed to have advertised a lot about it, many rural voters and those living in urban villages were unaware of the option.

More than the percentage of votes it got, the introduction of NOTA should be seen as a first major step towards sweeping electoral reforms in the country.

Till now, people had been voting for the candidates parties offered. Others, who were angry or upset with the choice of the candidate, chose not to vote at all.

But the new right would act as a tool for people to not just reject the wrong choice given by political parties but would also increase the faith in democracy in the time to come. The increased percentage of voting in the assembly elections this time is a sign of that.

The mere introduction of NOTA would create a difference to 'corrupt' political choice we have had for years. And it would not be far, when the NOTA vote would start making an impact on the poll results itself, forcing parties to give clean choices to people.

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