NOTA: A choice, when there is no choice

Writer- Zaid Chaudhary

The results of the Andheri east by-election have come. While the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) candidate won, the invisible candidate ‘NOTA’ also got 11569 votes. You can say that the future of ‘NOTA’ is bright. All that is needed is that all those who did not vote should come forward and press the button on ‘NOTA’. NOTA is a candidate who neither exists nor has any party. Yet it has started getting votes now. Imagine what will happen if all those voters, who are fed up with political parties, turn to the booth and press the pink button of ‘NOTA’? In Andheri East, the voting was only 32 percent. So calculate the multiplication if all the remaining voters bypassed all the parties and pressed the ‘pink’ button of ‘NOTA’? NOTA (none-of the above) had raised hopes from the recent UP elections. Whether urban areas or rural areas, nun of the above had made an appearance? Until then, say love or affection for NOTA or the frustration of those few urbanites that they would otherwise press the button. For the first time, a total of 7,804 rural voters from Malihabad, BKT, Sarojini Nagar and Mohanlalganj in Lucknow district pressed the NOTA button while only 6,430 pressed NOTA in five assembly constituencies of the city.

All political parties break their heads for the election symbol and here the magic of pink color of the ‘NOTA’ button has now started working. Pink is considered to be the color of love anyway. It is not without reason that young voters have fallen in love with NOTA i.e. None of the Above. In examinations, students often get to see the last option – none of the above i.e. NOTA. This indicates that all the above options can be wrong, which sometimes turns out to be right. But nota, used in India’s public representative elections, certainly sends the message that in the eyes of the voter, all the candidates mentioned on the ballot paper are useless, useless. What is the electoral process? To express your opinion is to vote for or against someone. And when all the candidates are in the same bag. What should a voter do in the eyes of a voter? Most such people do not go out to vote. With the good intention of noting that they can come out and express their opinion that no candidate is acceptable, the Election Commission nominated NOTA so that democracy knows what is the ground reality of the leaders through the democratic process. At least the candidates know that the voters are fed up with them.

Of course, if the criminalisation of politics is to stop and at the same time cool public anger, only NOTA can show the mirror provided there is 100 per cent voting so that everyone’s views are expressed. This is the only stick that will come under control if it runs. Otherwise, politics has become synonymous with hooliganism, power, corruption. The new IPC for politics that has been coined by the leaders that if ‘my corruption is less than the corruption of any other opposing leader, even if history has become a matter of history, I am self-styled bye-law! Now that it has been decided that the popularity of ‘NOTA’ is gradually increasing. One can expect an ideal situation in which honorable candidates are declared NOTA winners in at least two to four constituencies. Believe me, if this happens, the entire political community will improve. Political parties are still making a big mistake if they do not take NOTA seriously.

Remember the last Tamil Nadu elections, when an NGO in Tamil Nadu, TMUK, launched a campaign to suppress NOTA and made aware that even if you do not give your vote to anyone, no one else should put your vote, so definitely reach nota, then the ears of political parties were raised. The result of the campaign was that more than 8 lakh votes went to NOTA across the state and more than 16 lakh voters took refuge in NOTA in the assembly elections in five other states.However, ‘NOTA’ does not seem to make any difference from the moment because the right to reject which is not. This does not affect the results. Even to forfeit the deposits of candidates, NOTA votes are not added or subtracted. Although the votes polled by LAW to NOTA are ineligible votes, the percentage of youth who are thrilled to show overzealousness towards NOTA continues to grow.

Since about 65% of the voters in our country are young, this trend is deplorable and worrisome.It has been advocated many times that ‘NOTA’ should be at least so sharp that where the margin of victory is less than the NUMBER of NOTA votes and the winning candidate fails to get even one-third of the votes, the victory should be rejected. If this happens, leaders will start seeing stars during the day, the popularity of NOTA is increasing election after election. In the last assembly elections, 8,31,835 voters pressed the NOTA button in West Bengal, which was 1.5% of the total voter turnout. In Tamil Nadu, 5,57,888 NOTA was pressed, while in a small and literacy state like Kerala, 1,07,000 people opted for NOTA.In the Bihar assembly elections, NOTA got 9 lakh 47 thousand 276 votes, which was 2.5% of the total votes. During the Lok Sabha elections, about 60 lakh people opted for NOTA, which was available for the first time in 2014, which was more than the votes received by 21 parties in the country!

If we look at the voting in all the 543 seats, about 1.1% of the voters opted for NOTA. Surprisingly, in the Vadodara seat of the then PM candidate sitting at the peak of popularity, 18053 votes went to NOTA and 5 lakh 54 thousand 880 voters i.e. 1.8% across Gujarat chose NOTA. In the Gujarat assembly elections, the number of NOTA votes was more than the number of votes of any other party except the Congress and the BJP. But we hope in the coming time NOTA will become “the best choice, when there is no right choice”.

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