The Bold Voice of J&K

Times demand to replace NOTA with NTC (Not this Candidate): Casting a negative vote

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Daya Sagar

A very unique feature of Constitution of India as adopted and enacted on November 26, 1949 by The People of India solemnly resolving to constitute India into a Sovereign Democratic Republic has been that The executive power of the Union is vested in the President of India ( Art-53.1) , the supreme command of the Defence-Forces of the Union is vested in the President ( Art-53.2), all executive action of the Government of India are to be expressed to be taken in the name of the President of India( Art-77), the Parliament for the Union consist of the President and two Houses known respectively as the Council of States &the House of the People(Art-79) and the President before entering upon his/her takes an oath or affirmation to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law ( Art-60).. In the said reference it is very pertinent to note here that the said president is elected by people of India , ofcourse the election is through indirect mode. The President of India Union is elected ( Art-54 ) by people of India through the Electoral College comprising of members of Lok Sabha ( elected by people through direct election ), members of Legislative Assemblies of states/UTs ( elected through direct elections ) & members of Rajya Sabha / Upper House (elected by indirect election by members of Legislative Assemblies of states). So may at some time requirement may arise the President to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law as part of Parliament even from the representatives elected by people for a particular term.
So there has to be at the same time very intimate promotion of awareness in every citizen about the power of one’s vote and importance of casting vote during elections with utmost care so as to elect a representative, as far as possible, having pure intentions to serve the people of India in terms of the Constitution of India.
“Nothing Like Voting, I Vote For sure’ was the theme for NVD 2023 and the same theme has been was for NVD 2024 too. 25th January is being observed/ celebrated as National Voters Day (NVD) in India since 2011. The 2024 is also celebrated by Election Commission of India as ECI 75th year of service to the nation. Every year on this day surely some voter citizens also make suggestions for electoral reforms and in recent years there have been many suggestion like for reviewing the Anti defection law, relooking into the spirits under lying the provisions like NOTA ( none of the above ) and replacing that with something like ” Not This Candidate” ( NTC), setting a minimum qualifying mandate in terms of votes polled and secured by a winning candidate like there is provision of candidate losing deposit in case one secures votes less than a mark and like. So far no suggestion coming from common visionaries worth making one intimately sense the value in a pledge like ‘Nothing Like Voting, I Vote For sure’ has been implemented except that NOTA button / symbol was introduced (2013) which too does not have any meaningful affect in the election of any particular candidate since on ground it has same effect as like someone not voting.
In Indian democratic system the experience has been that in very rare cases an independent candidate wins and mostly the race is amongst the candidates nominated by national / regional parties.
The voter has to vote for the candidate the political parties field and in case one feels that ‘so and so’ candidate is not good and should not win voter has no option to cast a negative vote for that candidate since NOTA will have same effect for all candidates . Similarly in the present system for elections to legislature in case those who use the NOTA button are more than the maximum votes secured by any other candidates still the candidate is declared elected, which surely is not fair.
No doubt it has been reported on 26 April 2024 that a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has issued notice to the Election Commission of India on a petition by Shiv Khera seeking direction to frame rules to the effect that if NOTA gets a majority, the election held in the particular constituency should be declared null and void and a fresh election be conducted to the constituency. We have wait for the outcome .
Let us revert to the theme NVD 2024 , ‘Nothing Like Voting, I Vote For sure’. Equally important is (i) “how to select a candidate and (ii) should one vote in the national interest or only for self interests using keeping socio / communal yardsticks.
So often people are found discussing in private about the political parties depending more upon the alleged criminals / alleged economic offenders for success during elections. It was somewhere in 1987or so that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was reported as having being asked by a lady social activists that why does political parties like Congress give tickets for contesting elections to persons who have criminal background / economic allegations against them. Gandhi had very simply replied that a person who comes to claim ticket for contesting election along with hundreds of locals supporting him cannot be outrightly denied ticket without conducting detailed study / giving him opportunity to defend the files ( if any ) but the same person when comes to seek vote from “you” can be denied vote during election without any obligation on “you” to explain the denial of vote. So every five years a vote seeker has to come to common Voter citizen who as ‘supreme’ judge may not vote for a ‘bad’ candidate. In view of such like issues suggestions have been made for introducing negative voting also but instead the provision of NOTA ( None out of Above) was introduced by election commission in 2013 which comparatively makes no loss to any ‘bad’ amongst the contesting candidates.
It appears that the concept of NOTA too had been promoted / pushed in by those who are in the business of manipulative politics since NOTA puts no bad candidate to disadvantage because all the candidates are denied ‘with one’ vote. We have to elect out of the available lot and a voter is less supposed to know the real negatives of all candidates . So when NOTA is cast one should instead infer that the voter does not believe in the present electoral system.
Hence better would be to give a voter the option/ choice to elect someone or atleast to ensure that a bad candidate( as per one’s knowledge) is put to some disadvantage and for that voter should be given the option to send a message that a particular candidate should not be elected by pressing a button marked as NTC ( Not This Candidate ) i.e NOTA should be replaced with NTC ( Not This Candidate ). NTC will be to cast a negative vote for a candidate there by reducing his / her votes by one there by giving advantage to others. So, there should be two buttons with every candidate symbol i.e YES and /NTC. This way a bad candidate could be put to a disadvantage of one vote.
But it has also to be pointedly understood that as on date it is the politician monitored system that we have where we have no any other social or community body independent of the political masters to guide the common masses as regards their rights and jurisdictions over the public representatives they are to vote and elect. Today’s system at occasions appears pro those who have taken the “Indian democratic” system more as a profession/ commercial venture. The present “politician family” may not like such suggestions but in the interest of Indian people / Nation work must be started in this direction. There should not be any difficulty in replacing NOTA with NTC.
Not only that people must rise above all personal interests to ensure that their elected representatives are forced / impressed upon to see that constitutionally a minimum voting percentage for a constituency during elections is also fixed and counting be taken only after that otherwise let there be polling again.
(The writer is Senior Journalist and analyst J&K affairs)

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