SC verdict on negative vote option positive: Dr. JP

SC verdict on negative vote option positive: Dr. JP

Hyderabad, Sept 27 (INN): The Lok Satta on Friday described the Supreme Court judgment providing for casting a negative vote in elections as a small but significant and positive step in improving politics.

In a media statement, Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan recalled that the Lok Satta movement had suggested the reform to the Election Commission of India 15 years ago. Since the Election Commission could not change the rules on its own, it referred the matter to the Government of India. The Government has not acted on the suggestion.

The Supreme Court has now asked the Election Commission to provide ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ button on EVMs and option on ballot papers. The apex court said the right to vote and the right to say NOTA are both part of the basic right of voters.

Dr. JP recalled that the NOTA option will not be a game changer going by past experience. Hardy one or two percent of voters exercised such an option when Lok Satta campaigned hard to mobilize Negative vote. In Andhra Pradesh, fewer than 1% exercised negative vote option when the State Election Commission tried it in local elections in the past.

Yet, Dr. JP said, the reform will serve the purpose of pressurizing political parties to shun fielding undesirable and discredited candidates. It will also motivate a section of voters who do not go to the polling booth now on the pretext that all the candidates in the race are detestable. In such cases voters can be encouraged to exercise the option of recording their dissent by negative vote.

The NOTA reform will also come in handy when voters feel none of the political parties or candidates in the fray is mirroring their feelings in time of emotional polarization or surcharged atmosphere. The voters, especially in a local election, can express their wrath against all candidates if a long-pending problem is not addressed to their satisfaction. On occasion it could also be a weapon to mobilize sectarian vote based on caste or ethnicity in support of highly parochial demands.

There will be a real transformation in politics only when all political parties field candidates with credibility, integrity, competence and good track record, Dr. JP added. “Political crisis of the nation can only be resolved by political means and citizens’ participation, not by judiciary or Election Commission alone.”

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