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Is NOTA in its present form in the interest of democracy!
NOTA or 'None of The Above' is an option in elections which the voters can choose if they don't want to vote for any candidate. This option is available in many countries. In India it was implemented since 2104 general election.

The argument in favour of NOTA is that the voters must get an option to dissent against the candidates. People are interested to do voting in performing their citizen responsibility but because they don't like the contestants, they don't come for voting. Thus, NOTA will give a reason for people to come for Vote and voter turnout will be increased.

Although NOTA is constitutionally valid, I'm not satisfied with it because I feel that it is against the democratic spirit and even unconstitutional to some extent. The reasons are many.

The Constitution doesn't mandate to vote only. It also mandates very clearly that the citizens should participate in the elections to elect their representative for governing the nation. The point to be noted is that the ruling party is that the opposition parties also have a role in governance because they will make government accountable for any neglect, misdeeds or omissions. Thus, a representative from a constituency is part of overall governance of the nation. In a democracy the Constitution vests the responsibility with the people to send the deserving representatives from that constituency. You can't say that you will vote but not choose anybody. You are not doing any charity to the country rather your duty is to elect a representative of your choice. If you don't find anybody deserving to be your representative then either you stand for elections or make someone of your choice to contest in the election. If neither is possible then you need to choose the better among the available candidates.

Why I think NOTA in its present form is a bit unconstitutional?

Let's take an example. If NOTA gets the highest votes, will there be a re-election? The answer is no because only the contestants getting votes will be considered and not NOTA votes. You can ask in which rule it is written that if NOTA polls highest votes there will be no re-election. My answer is that nowhere it's written that if NOTA polls highest votes, the election will be scrapped. There's no precedence yet, thus none has any idea what will happen if such a scenario occurs.

However, I can give a circumstantial evidence. In many places including last West Bengal Panchayat election, many candidates were declared won as uncontested. What does it mean by uncontested? Uncontested means except one candidate none other nominated their candidature. But then if NOTA is part of election, how can a candidate be declared winner uncontested? The election could have done between that one candidate and NOTA. If NOTA gets more votes the election could have been scrapped. But it's not followed, that means NOTA is neither a candidate nor an option in deciding the winner of an election. That means voting for NOTA and abstaining from voting is the same thing at least at the present form of NOTA.

Then many think that as they decide to reject all the candidates through NOTA, thus they have no role in electing a representative (as all are evils). In some elections especially in the Assembly elections of 2018, it was proved that in many constituencies the win margin was less than the votes polled by NOTA. That means a candidate's win or loss also depends on the NOTA votes. Some said that if the NOTA votes would had gone to the losing candidate, he could have won. I don't say where the NOTA votes should have gone. What I want to say is that NOTA votes too indirectly decide the winner. If NOTA indirectly affects the outcome of an election what's wrong if people directly chose the better one? In no case all the candidates can be equal in all respects. Better to find the lesser evil. NOTA may be good or appropriate for surveys on products or services but totally in appropriate in a democratic system where people have the constitutional obligation to elect a representative for governance of the country. Nation's governance is the most important & serious matter in a functioning democracy.

Bottom line is that democracy harps on its people. It should be our will and wish which should dictate the politicians. To achieve this we need to fulfil our constitutional obligation. Voting for NOTA is just doing half the duty. Half measures never work for our betterment. Thus, I would suggest avoiding NOTA. You have to find a choice among the lot else you will indirectly elect someone you don't want.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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