NITI CEO for jailing urban middle class for poll apathy

New Delhi: NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant looks on during the media addressal after the 4th meeting of Governing Council of NITI Aayog, in New Delhi on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (PTI Photo/Subhav Shukla) (PTI6_17_2018_000086A)

The Chief Executive Officer of the policy think tank of the Government of India -- Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant has called for the jailing of urban middle-class voters for "showing apathy" during the elections.

"Australia too is in the midst of its federal elections. Voting is compulsory & those who do not vote are fined $20. In case of non-payment, you can be taken to court & liable to be jailed. Seeing d apathy of rich & middle-class voters in urban cities of India this is worth a try (sic)," Kant said from his verified handle on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The Niti Aayog chief faced a huge backlash after he tweeted this, with a lot of prominent citizen, including former Chief Election Commissioner of India SY Qureshi, calling him out. 

"No Mr Kant, your right to vote includes the right not to vote. In NOTA judgment, SC has made it clear that it is your fundament right, while the right to vote is a statutory right. Think of millions of daily wagers who will be harassed for non-voting," Qureshi replied to the tweet.

Many others, like historian Irfan Habib and noted economist Rupa Subramanya, were also critical of the Kant's point of view. "Highly illiberal & straight out of the Gujarat model. Right not to vote a fundamental civil right & form of protest. Exactly what Gujarat HC said in 2015 while staying govt decision to introduce compulsory voting. What's next? You'll tell us whom to vote for?" Subramanya said in a barrage of tweets.

However, there was also a bit of support coming in the way of the Kant, including from Bengaluru-based top industrialist Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.

Kant, an IAS officer of the 1980 batch, has been at the helm of Niti Aayog since April 1, 2016. It was established in 2015, by the NDA government, to replace the Planning Commission which followed a top-down model. The chairman of the Niti Aayog is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while its vice chairman is economist Rajiv Kumar.

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