Children tag along with NOTA campaigners

Children tag along with NOTA campaigners

It is the election season and political parties are leaving no stone unturned to make new promises and “buy” votes. But a group of activists has taken to the streets to ensure that votes do not go waste and are not bought.

Grama Panchayat Hakkottaya Andolana (GPHA) on Tuesday organised a campaign at Town Hall to make people aware of the importance of None of the Above (NOTA) option. Children as well as adults participated in equal numbers.

Speaking to reporters, GPHA convenor Nandana Reddy said that though NOTA had finally come out as an option, it did not empower a citizen to reject a candidate. “More often than not, money power and other things take centre stage. The idea is the re-empowerment of a citizen. As of now, NOTA is an invalid vote. Even if you sit at home without voting, it pretty much means NOTA. Then what is the whole point of having this option? For instance, if there are 100 votes, 99 of which are NOTAs, the remaining one vote would still be counted, making the candidate invariably win. Such are our policies.”

The campaign seeks to appeal to the higher authorities, including the Supreme Court, to give enough power to NOTA so as to bring about a re-election in case of an overwhelming response to the option. Artistes, theatre persons and activists took part in the campaign.

The unique feature, however, was the participation of children below 18 years,” said Kavita Ratna, an activist.

Chandappa, 16, said: “Politicians visit our homes in slums, take us in trucks to various places for campaigning and pay our parents Rs 100 to Rs 200 at the end of the day. This means they technically buy us. When the elections are over and we approach them for help, they say: you do not have a voice, we have bought you. I want the situation to change.”

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