Decoding brouhaha about increasing popularity of NOTA

If in exercise of power vested in each voter by the Election Commission, he rejects a candidate who doesn't deserve his 'faith', how could his pressing NOTA button amount to ‘wasting his right to vote’?

Rajesh Kumar

Increasing awareness about NOTA is creating ripples in political circles. This is evident from recent newspaper reports that give a lucid statistical contrast vis-à-vis the number of votes cast in favour of NOTA in 2014 general elections and 2017 Assembly election in Himachal.

Some of the concerns state politicians have raised in the said reports are — exercising NOTA is a blatant disregard to right to vote and instead voters should cast their vote in favour of one candidate or other depending upon their merits; secondly, exercising NOTA amounts to wasting one’s right to vote and in a true spirit of democracy a voter must abstain from exercising it; and thirdly, exercising NOTA is a ‘mockery of right to vote’ and the provision is not good for democracy.

If conscience-stricken political leadership in the state is so concerned about upholding the true spirit of democracy, let them have a fair understanding and clarity of conception about the very definition of democracy in the first place.

If dedicating yourself to the guiding force behind our republic, which our constitution is, is undemocratic a voter may rightly be accused of deviating from the righteous course of democratic spiritedness. If striving to preserve the richness of the very guiding principles over which stand three strong pillars of democracy – Judiciary, Legislature and Executive – is undemocratic, a voter may really be at deep fault. If abiding by the provisions and procedures of various processes prescribed by democratic institutions which our constitution has given to this nation to safeguarding and upholding individual rights, is undemocratic, a voter deserves to be held guilty of fomenting anti-democratic propensities.

If in exercise of his democratic right – which franchise is – he presses NOTA to venting off his suffocation that seems to engulf current political system of which he is an inalienable part, how could his opting for NOTA amount to ‘disregarding his right to vote’? If in exercise of power vested in each voter by the honorable Election Commission, he rejects a candidate who doesn’t deserve his ‘faith’, how could his pressing NOTA button amount to ‘wasting his right to vote’?

‘Right to vote’ in all its fairness bestows upon each citizen of this nation an authority to voice his concern against the ailing polity that needs a fresh breath of life, otherwise, which only an awakened voter may give through judicious use of his right to vote. Whether he wishes to exercise it or not, is his prerogative bestowed upon him by the constitution and is no binding on him, as is made out to be by politicians, unless enforced through law, which we have none thus far. Nor could his absenteeism from electoral process be construed as illegal or irresponsible electoral behaviour on his part. Then why browbeat voters on the issue?

NOTA is one such step towards strengthening democratic values, which has lent a new meaning to voting, though it is a separate matter that thus far it has not been lent a definitive electoral value in our current system nor any relevance attached to it as such which may catapult it to prominence. But what it conveys, for sure, is a definitive strong message that voters need not abstain from voting, but come forward, be a part of the electoral exercise and register their legitimate protest against unwarranted impositions of choices that don’t deserve to their elected representatives. Peeved at sordidness that currently infests political landscape where criminals occupying echelons of power are literal parasites eating into the very roots of democracy, a sane voter doesn’t wish to be a party to their election. Is this not reflective of true essence of democratic spiritedness which must, rather, inhere in every sane voter? If yes, why the political brouhaha then?

Unbridled criminalisation of politics is a Frankenstein monster we are rearing in our backyard by not being adequately vocal about the grim issue. All that political parties want is a voiceless voter lacking in an opinion of his own, one who may never question their past wrongful deeds. Winnability of their candidate at any cost is all that matters to them not necessarily the ‘prevalence of voice of the people’ across the

political spectrum, which may topple their apple cart. Hence, the political stratagem of diverting attention from the main issues through emotional blackmail of voters in the name of true spirit of democracy by imploring them to exercise their ‘right to vote’ essentially in favour of a candidate and not NOTA. It is time we understood it and took a solemn pledge to vote out of clear conscience with sagacity, not under any pressure and more as a duty towards preserving the sanctity of democracy and less as an obligation towards the nation.

Some seemingly disillusioned political leaders of the state have shown reservations that instead of criticising politicians whom people have deemed as incompetent of delivering to expected level, they had better contested the elections themselves and brought the desired results. Well, time is not far when an awakening of the sort would dawn upon younger generation of voters – the real driving force India is likely to be propelled with in the coming times. Fed up of current political system marred by Aaya Rams and Gaya Rams and chameleons who show their true colours only at the time of elections, it is this very younger generation of voters, which is going to decide the destiny and fate of India for they are the true harbingers of change. Have faith in them. 

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