A revolution will always start silently, just like stillness in air before a storm. Indian politics is in such a bewildered hush now as a storm is on its way, however we are yet to witness whether it’s gonna be really a storm or a simple “storm in a cup”.
First, Supreme Court gave judgement that a convicted legislator will be disqualified immediately and unlike before, he cannot continue in post even if his appeal is pending in higher court. The party in power tried to bring an Ordinance (it’s a Presidential order which comes in effect immediately) to override the decision and in turn protect the convicted lawmakers. But thanks to the comment of “tear it into pieces” by one of the known faces of Indian Politics, this ordinance was taken back. As a result what we witness is, for the first time in the history of independent India, some of the ex-Chief Ministers, who are MPs at present, got disqualified when they were convicted in cases related to some scams in past few weeks. It is first step towards political decriminalization in India.
In another famous case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India, Supreme Court has given a landmark judgement to make NOTA (None Of The Above) button mandatory in EVMs (Electronic Voting Machine) in elections from now on. This decision might seems pretty small because
- NOTA votes count will be made public but they do not have any significance as of now,
- Even if NOTA gets maximum votes, the person with next maximum number of votes will be declared as winner
For Ex:- If a constituency has 1000 votes and three candidates A, B, C are contesting elections. Now the voting results are something like this,
Candidate A – 150
Candidate B – 200
Candidate C – 250
NOTA votes – 400
Total Votes = 1000
In this case, though majority voted for NOTA, Candidate C will be declared winner.
As explained above, when there is no credible impact of NOTA on electing the right candidate, is it not a futile exercise to provide NOTA button in elections? Actually it’s not that simple. Though it seems like NOTA might not have much impact, its reverberations are yet to be experienced, like
- As NOTA vote count is made public, Political parties will be cautious in selecting their candidate, because it will be embarrassing if NOTA votes are more than winning votes, which means majority people actually rejected all the candidates.
- Though as of now it is not conceivable that re-elections be held in case of majority voting NOTA but may be in near future, when technological advancements make holding elections a quick and low-cost activity, we may see re-elections with fresh candidates by disqualifying all the candidates who lost to NOTA J
- This provision of NOTA can slowly take us towards the significant “Right to Recall”. This is a right of voters using which they can disqualify a legislator (before his term is expired) by conducting election.
- Actually this “Right to recall” has been implemented for Panchayati Raj system in Madhya Pradesh where in a village of Anuppur district the Gram Chairperson, a lady, was voted out. The ballot paper included two symbols, one chair occupied by a woman and another chair empty. As majority voters stamped over empty chair, the gram chairperson was voted out.
Now you believe, after seeing the prospective changes this NOTA button can bring, that its NOTA small change. Actually this button has a personal significance in my life. In 2009, I was excited about using electoral franchise for the first time in life and was discussing about it with a friend, he surprisingly said “I don’t want to take part in any kind of political activity in this country, it’s better to keep away from such $$^^%#”, and he was strongly supporting his argument saying, when all the politicians are criminals why should he vote to one of them and become a party of the criminalization, instead he sought to keep away from elections process. I had no way to convince him then, but with the advent of NOTA such an argument has lost its meaning now. It is time we, being responsible citizens of this world’s largest democracy, must actively participate in democratic process as “Voting is not just our Right but it is our moral duty to choose the right representative”. What say? Please share your thoughts…