Dreams for a strong democracy

Last Updated 30 September 2013, 16:13 IST

Dissatisfaction with the government is a feeling we all share in common today. And legal recourse is perhaps the only weapon with citizens when it comes to expressing anger and anguish both, especially when it comes to deciding their elected representatives.

But how many of us actually take on the all powerful netas – fearing a backlash? However, via a recent judgment, the Supreme Court has empowered the citizens to fight for a strong democracy by giving them the right to NOTA.

None of The Above (NOTA) on EVM machines allows citizens to cast a negative vote to convey to political parties that none of the candidates in the fray in an election is worthy of their vote. Metrolife speaks to citizens regarding their new voting powers.
Awadesh Kumar, who runs a perfumery business says, “The NOTA button in the EVMs will accelerate the participation of more people in the present state of democratic system. It is apparent that people, especially in urban areas, are so unhappy with the contenders of different political parties that they desist from voting. The footfall will definitely increase.”

Supporting Awadesh’s view is Akshay Pandey who has cast his vote but once, “Voting for the last Delhi Assembly election was my first experience as a voter and I was excited.”  But the moment EVM was infront, Akshay had some different thoughts. “I had this feeling that whosoever will be the elected will cheat on us. It brought my morale down,” says Akshay, who decided not to cast his vote again.
“But after hearing this judgement I want to vote again and click the NOTA button so that it can impact political parties,” he says.

However, Megha Jain, a postgraduate in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) hopes that it will push political parties to field more suitable candidates in all constituencies. “If NOTA is being implemented, then it is obvious that a majority of people will express their anger through it. If in case the votes for NOTA is maximum and none of the candidates secure 50 per cent votes to be declared as winner, the political parties will be forced to field an honest candidate and not those with criminal charges.”

But 25-year-old Subhamoy Dam, who is studying MBA points out, “In case the NOTA button gets more votes than any of the candidates, none of the candidates should be declared elected and a fresh election should be held in which none of the candidates earlier rejected will be allowed to contest.”

As the judgment by the apex court offers a ray of hope, youngsters are reading a lot on the provisions for voting. “I was surprised when I read that NOTA plan has been lying with the govt for 14 years,” remarks Subhamoy.

Though there is excitement, there are those who are questioning the same. Megha points out, “Why will any citizen stand in a line at a polling booth for hours to exercise that right negatively? The SC thinks that voters will take trouble to express their dissatisfaction via voting but what if they do not bother to show up for the polls at all?”
That is something which time will only tell!

(Published 30 September 2013, 16:13 IST)

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