The Bold Voice of J&K

Times demand setting a Min. Qualifying Voting % & as well to replace NOTA with NTC (Not this Candidate)

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May it be in Kashmir valley or anywhere in India holding election results valid even in constituencies ( local bodies / state legislatures/ Lok Sabha ) where there is Polling of Zero% or just 10-15 % raises questions on the present system of parliamentary democracy as we have in India today. The present system needs a very critical study &analysis worth recasting the procedures/ rules that we have this day.
For example if during elections to Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies even when just 10 % people cast their vote still the candidate getting the highest votes, may be only a few votes ( may be even just one vote ) out of a voter list as large as 10,00,000 or 10,000 ,can get elected as MP or MLA or Counselor or MC member , what a joke with the democratic system.
Not only that even in the Local body elections where many people individually know each other there may be no poll or negligible poll in many constituencies but still person with even no ( zero) vote out of 500-1000 vote gets elected as public representative, one would ask who elected him/ her ? The 2018 local body in Kashmir valley could be quoted as an example.
On 10th Oct 2018 during Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls 2nd Phase for Anantnag Municipal Council polling was held for 16 wards, the overall voter turnout reportedly was recorded merely 1.14% even when polling time was extended by one hour ( only about 356 voters out of total of 31277 in voter lists cast votes ) cast the vote and candidates in nine wards were declared elected unopposed. On the overall in the Anantnag Municipal Council out of 132 wards in 42 wards no candidate filed application and in 63 wards there was only one contestant each. Similarly as regards Municipal Committee Pampore out 17 Wards 12 wards remained vacant and in the remaining 5 wards there was almost nearly contest whereas per data made available in public domain in three wards 3 members of same family won (Darangabal- E Rohin Bhat s/o Bansi Lal Bhat was elected , Darangabal-D Kanchan Kumari W/o Bansi Lal Bhat was elected and Darangabal -F Bansi Lal Bhat S/o Ved Lal Bhat ) were taken as elected unopposed. Imagine whom did the councilors who had been taken as elected represent? Ofcourse the Lok Sabha elections held in Kashmir valley since 2014 to have enough to demonstrate. Similar or near about low polling may also be noted in some other states.
So, a serious discourse in this regard need be held in India and the politicians must be forced to go for amending the system / rules. We must set a minimum voting percentage as the qualifying standard and in case the voting % for a constituency is less than “that” the elections must be held again. Let there be even administrator / governor rule / president rule to manage the local bodies or the state , as the case may or let some seats remain vacant in the Lok Sabha / Legislative assembly / Local body instead of having fake public representatives. To quote the minimum datum line could be set like 34 % polling for a constituency and in case the polling is less than that the elections be held again at appropriate time. Some may argue that this will involve extra cost burden but they must realize that only a fair , just and representative government is the spirit behind electing public representatives in a democracy and no cost can be dearer than that. So, such elections where people do not vote in real numbers ( say at least not 1/3rd, say at least 34% of the total registered voters vote) no candidate should be declared as elected and elections should be held again, similarly the body i.e legislature/ Lok Sabha should be constituted only when at least 1/3rd of the total seats are elected.
Every 25th January is observed in India as National Voters Day since 2011 ( 25th Jan is also foundation day of Election Commission of India) and with the objective of increasing voter enrolment focusing specially on new voters on the 1st National Voters’ day the newly and enrolled electors were given a badge with the slogan “Proud to be a Voter-Ready to Vote” and were administered a pledge that goes : “We, the citizens of India, having abiding faith in democracy, hereby pledge to uphold the democratic traditions of our country and the dignity of free, fair and peaceful elections, and to vote in every election fearlessly and without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language or any inducement”. So in a way need is nourish sense of citizenship, empowerment, pride, inspired initiative for exercising the franchise when the occasion comes in one and all. The theme for the National Voters Day 2023 NVD, has been ‘Nothing Like Voting, I Vote for Sure’. How far our electoral system has been able to make one feel concerned about one’s right to vote as duty towards the fellow citizens worth giving them a serious democratically elected parliamentary system of governance must agitate our minds for considering to apply reforms like setting a minimum voting percentage as the qualifying standard treating a election valid.
To be Continued
(Daya Sagar – Senior Journalist and analyst J&K affairs [email protected]).

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