ROLE OF NOTA IN PARTICIPATIVE DEMOCRACY
Elections are a festival of democracy. The citizens decide the candidate they want them to represent and resolve the issues that matter. In general elections, we Indians choose Members of Parliament which ultimately choose the Prime Minister of our country which governs and administers the nation through his ministries. General Elections are an important chapter for the nation. The republican character of our constitution is exercised and people have a say on How they want to be governed ……
India is a democratic – republican political entity. The makers of the constitution wanted people to govern themselves through means of representation. The makers thought it was best if the voice of the people echoed in the gullies of governance.
What is NOTA ?
The Supreme Court in Peoples Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India directed the Election Commission to include the button of NOTA in the electoral machines. NOTA means – None of the above, is also called a scratch vote or blank vote , where voters don’t abstain from voting but vote not accepting any of the candidates as their representative. The Supreme Court considers voters right to reject as an important right in democracy. The concept of NOTA has come from 1976 resolution passed by Santa Barbara County in California for their municipal elections.
End Result of NOTA :
Even if more than 50% of the voters vote for NOTA , the candidate receiving highest number of votes wins an election. This makes NOTA a gimmick or a vehicle without fuel. It is just reduced as a platform to express disapproval of the candidates put up by the political parties. NOTA is hence not offering any solution to the problem and nor is stopping any particular candidate from winning an election.
In republican- democratic structure, people must have a say in the manner they are governed. In an environment where the civil society and NGO’s are working hard to raise awareness about maximum voting, standing in the queue and casting for NOTA is an absolute waste of your invaluable opinion.
An Idealistic Argument:
“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
In the age of social media and various public platforms we have options to rate our Members of Parliament and express our concern with them. If one is absolutely unhappy with the list of candidates contesting the election, one can always think of contesting an election and solving problems. If you think contesting an election is much of an uphill task, then you could be the part of the solution and always assist your MP in finding the solution to the problems one faces. In India , elections are publically financed and the Election Commission spends a huge amount of resources to undertake voting , voting for NOTA whose logical effectuation is zero , is a waste of our countries resources.
Loss of the Rightful
Since NOTA is a scratch vote or a blank vote, it is as good as wasting your vote. In the USA Presidential System although Hillary Clinton won more votes than Donald Trump, Donald Trump won the election. This election also experienced merely 58 % voting turnout ie 42 % didn’t vote or abstain from voting. As discussed earlier , NOTA does not yield any positive electoral alternative , instead , it reduces the chances of the least worst from the available to win and improve your representation and increases the chances of candidates who rely on vote banks and identity politics to win an election. Therefore, it is always viable to vote for a candidate who is offering the best in the situation and has a broader vision for governance and administration.
In learned from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved come from the duty well done.- Mahatma Gandhi
Article 29(1) of the UDHR which says that ‘Everyone has duties to the community in which the alone and the free and full development of the his personality is possible.’ In India, there is a mischievous blurring of policy and duties. The voter must read the manifesto’s of the Parties contesting, must understand their vision for governing the country and most importantly the credibility of the leadership involved in implementing such vision. The voter must be able to differentiate the between the scope of powers between the Union List , The State list and concurrent list.
The situation cannot be improved by merely expressing dissent but by stopping the wrong people and empowering the appropriate people. At the end of the when we are empowered to make the decision, we must reach to its logical conclusion. These are the very basic things an average voter who wants to see his country progress, wishes to see lives of Indians getting better and wants India to be a global leader must consider while voting.
By Ritvik Joshi