ELECTIONS; RIGHT OF NOTA

DEFINING ELECTIONS

Election is defined as the process of choosing people or representatives to fill an official post for which the person is standing in the elections by the people through the process of voting. Elections are contested to elect representatives in the either house of the Parliament or in either of the State Legislatures. Person who votes for the representative is called an elector and the one who is contesting the election is called a candidate. Election is the most essential and vital aspect for the establishment of a democracy in the nation, it enables people to recognize their problems and hardships and put it forward to a person who they think will resolve by electing the person through the process of voting and similarly, it enables a person to contest election who thinks that he/ she will win the trust of the people and can acquire as many votes as he or she can so that the people facing problems of any sort gets minimized.

India is considered to be the largest democracy in the world as it is a home for many religions and castes. In India there nine recognized religions which are followed by the people and they are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Baha’i Faith and there are about 3000 castes in India. Abundance of castes, variety of cultures, about 1,652 regional languages differentiates India positively with other countries in terms of secularism. Election makes people aware why and for what they should cast their vote and to whom because it gives a choice of electing their representative who they feel would rectify their problem and always be ready to help them during his or her tenure.

PRINCIPLE BEHIND CHOSING BEST AVAILABLE MEN/ WOMEN AS PEOPLES’s REPRESENATIVE

For the survival of the democracy and to preserve the basic idea of Secularism enshrined in the Constitution of India the Rule of Law must prevail. Candidates standing in election for the People’s Representative must be of high moral and ethical values and should contest elections purely on the basis of trust and merits of his/her own and not showing ill treatment and using mal-practices such as use of money to influence and eliminate the rival candidates because the overall motive of election is the betterment of the people of the country and preservation of the supreme law of land i.e., the Constitution of India. Smoothening of the process of elections can only be achieved when the candidates’ contesting elections compete with each other only on a positive vote basis and the comparison between the candidates should be done only on the merits and abilities of each other without the negative influence. Ill practices of elections or more preferably the use of money has led to the elimination of many capable and trustworthy candidates therefore, money must not have any links to elections and voting process. Elections in India provides every candidate to contest elections irrespective of his or her financial and economic background and to contest purely on the basis of merits and capabilities.

Ill practices not only affect the candidate’s contesting election but also to the voters because as a political move parties tend to influence the voters by providing them with money or any essential commodities in order to attract votes from them in return, which is in itself unconstitutional and derogatory. These mal-practices have been done since many years but was never taken into consideration and thus, was a major threat to our country politics but over time it has led to the promotion of criminalization of politics to save our Country politics, Democracy and integrity of the Nation. Criminalization of politics was prominently observed in the case of Gadakh Yashwantrao Kankarrao V Babasaheb Vikhe Patil, AIR 1994 SC 678.

Voters play a vital role in the making the Democracy stronger as greater number of voters leads to strengthening of Democracy as it shows commitment and awareness of the voters and vice versa. However, there is no rule that determines what the correct and right voter participation is. Increasing number of voters can increase the participation in the democracy.

However, there are citizens that don’t want to vote because their ideologies don’t go with the political parties from which the candidates are contesting elections, and citizens since many years either don’t vote or vote for the party that is not their choice because there are no options. Therefore, the provision of NOTA i.e., none of the above is used for the people who are not willing to vote for anyone. NOTA is extensively a remarkable provision provided by the Election Commission of India that enables the citizens of the country to exercise their Fundamental Right to Vote moreover, the provision of NOTA compels the Political Parties to nominate a sound and the most eligible candidate for the elections. However, vote casted under NOTA category makes the vote if not useless then not beneficial to either of the candidates and holds no electoral value even if the majority of votes is casted in the NOTA category, then the candidate with largest number of votes will win the elections, but it makes sure that every political party makes a the most decent and legitimate candidate stand in the elections so that the contesting candidate wins the trust of the people and acquire votes. If we move further with the origin of this NOTA provision then Chhattisgarh was the first state to implement it in the local elections in the year 2009 and it made its debut in the Assembly elections in 2013 in 4 different states such as Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the National Capital Territory Delhi. NOTA has been held responsible for defining growth of maturity in democracy as it shows that people are willing to go to the polling booth and show their rejection for the either candidates and cast their votes hence, NOTA is a positive step but doesn’t go far enough as the provision of NOTA is used to express resentment, for instance if the ruling party is unable meet the needs of the people of a particular caste or religion and that particular caste and religion resort to protesting just to show the ruling party how inactive and incompetent they have been towards them, then protesting citizens can cast their vote under the NOTA category to put down the party in power if they feel nobody else is competent and empathetic enough to listen to their voices and help them.

It is a positive step in the way that people are using democratic ways to show their dissatisfaction towards the party in power and vote it out of power, and enables people to have full faith in the democracy of the Country. It has been observed that some of the highest NOTA votes polled are consistently seen in Reserved Constituencies. This could be interpreted as a refusal of general category voters to vote for an SC/ST candidate – a scenario where NOTA is being misused to uphold caste-based bias.[1] It has been observed that in many elections NOTA has pulled more votes than any of the candidates standing in elections.

According observations NOTA can influence a greater number of voters though there is a danger that novelty factors associated with NOTA will gradually erode. However, popularity of the NOTA button has been increasing since its introduction and it can be observed in the several Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections that the voters with NOTA has pulled out majority than the margin of victory in any of the Constituencies. In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly Elections, the total vote share of NOTA was lesser only than BJP, Congress, and Independent Candidates. In 118 constituencies, NOTA polled the third largest vote share after BJP and Congress. [2]

In the 2018 Karnataka Assembly Elections, NOTA polled more votes than some parties with a nation-wide presence such as CPI(M) and BSP. [3]

In the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections conducted in 2018, the difference between the vote share of the (winning) BJP and Congress was just 0.1%, whereas NOTA polled a vote share of 1.4%.[4]

To cite an example, in the South Gwalior Constituency, the sitting MLA Narayan Singh Kushwaha lost by 121 votes, whereas NOTA got 1550 votes. Had all the NOTA voters hypothetically voted for Kushwaha, he would have won by a huge margin. In the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, 2G scam accused MP – A Raja (DMK candidate) – lost to the AIADMK candidate, while NOTA emerged with the third largest vote share, possibly as an expression of public anger towards corrupt candidates. [5]

In the 2019 Indian general election, about 1.04 percent of the voters chose to vote for None of The Above (NOTA), with Bihar and Assam leading with 2.08 percent NOTA voters. [6]

SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT ON NOTA

A writ petition was filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the Apex Court passed a judgement “We direct the Election Commission to provide necessary provision in the ballot papers/EVMs and another button called “None of the Above” (NOTA) may be provided in EVMs so that the voters, who come to the polling booth and decide not to vote for any of the   candidates in the fray, are able to exercise their right not to vote while maintaining their right of secrecy.”[7] The Supreme Court further observed that it is essential that people of high moral and ethical values are chosen as people’s representatives for proper governance, and NOTA button can compel political parties to nominate a sound and ethical candidate. Therefore, NOTA plays a vital role in making the democracy powerful and people aware.

REFERENCE

  1. Economic and Political Weekly
  2. businessline. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  3. BloombergQuint. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  4. timesofindia.com.
  5. Business Standard India. Retrieved 2018-12-21
  6.  Firstpost.
  7. WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 161 OF 2004″

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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