NOTA: Udupi DC's statement draws flak

NOTA: Udupi DC's statement draws flak

The District Election Officer’s (DEO) declaration that campaigning for NOTA (none of the above) is a violation of poll code of conduct has drawn ire of activists.

Mangaluru-based National Environment Care Foundation (NECF) convener Sashidar Shetty, in a letter to the DEO and Deputy Commissioner Hephsiba Rani Korlapati, informed that her statement on NOTA has created confusion in the minds of voters. The governments and courts had empowered a voter to use the option of NOTA on EVM (electronic voting machine) if the candidates failed to meet their expectations, he said.

“Is your declaration justified in declaring that there should be no campaiging for NOTA ?,” Shetty asked. When leaders can campaign for BJP or Congress party why cannot activists campaign about NOTA? When the government failed to take steps on creating awareness about NOTA, the activists campaigned relentlessly in favour of NOTA, he emphasised.

He recollected how the Dakshina Kannada district election officer and Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil S had directed the ZP chief executive officer (CEO) to permit environmental activists to create awareness about NOTA in the previous assembly elections. “To declare that generating awareness on NOTA as a violation of model code of conduct is infringement of the right guaranteed to citizens under Article 19,” he said.

RTI activist Sanjeeva Kabaka registered his opposition to the DEO’s statement on NOTA by expressing his views on his Faceboook account. He recollected that residents of Charvaka in Kaniyoor village in Puttur taluk had decided to boycott the elections as their pleas to asphalt the stretch had fallen on deaf ears. But the residents withdrew their agitation and voted on the day of elections.

“After the poll results were made public, the officials were alarmed at the huge number of NOTA votes registered at Kaniyoor ward and swung into act by asphalting the stretch,” Sanjeevanna said and added that NOTA is the best option for those deciding to boycott elections. Sashidar Shetty when contacted said the Udupi DEO was yet to respond to his letter.

But the SVEEP committee clarified that the DEO intended to say that awareness about NOTA was not wrong, but forcing voters to opt for NOTA is a violation of election model code of conduct, he said quoting officials in SVEEP.