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Dr. G.Singh

#NOTA – None Of The Above

Election is most important festival of loktantra. We elect our reprsentative via elections. But the issue is we are forced to choose out of a list. Although anyone can be the part of list if he or she wish but practically it is not true. Practically we are forced to choose one candidate out of available list. But this is not ture anymore. Now we have NOTA for elections.

Nota is available from past few elections but it is in discussion after recent election in five states including Rajasthan and M.P. Now a days NOTA is in almost every discussion. Why ? The reason behind discussion is the vote difference between elected candidates and 2nd candidate was such low that nota votes exceed the difference. After so much discussion an obvious question is what is NOTA and more important why and how it can be used.

NOTA is short of ‘None Of The Above’ and it is an additional option to choose in ballot paper or EVM machine. That means if in an election suppose 4 candidate contesting then EVM machine or ballot paper will be having 5 option to elect. And voter can elect nota to say all candidate appearing for election are not suitable as per his/her openion. In other words we can say NOTA is a virtual candidate in election.

If NOTA is a candidate it may possible that he get majority. What if NOTA get majority ? Who will be the elected candidate on that seat ? A virtual candidate can not be declared winner then what will happen ?

What happen if NOTA get majority votes is mainly decided by the rules and regulations of election/country. There can be many possiblities just for example at the particulat seat election can be declared void and reelaction can be done. It is also possible that the candidate with next majority is declared winner. Some other possiblities are also possible but it mainly depends on country/organization.

What happen in India ?

Here in India NOTA Votes are counted as INVALID votes so they can not change the result. In other words we can say even if NOTA get majority votes still next candidate will be declared winner. That means NOTA votes are equal to NO-VOTE. But is that true ?

First let us see a little history of NOTA here in India.

The Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court in 2009 that it wished to offer the voter a “none of the above” option on ballots, which the government had generally opposed. The ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties’, a NGO (non-governmental organisation), filed a PIL (public-interest litigation) statement in support of this.

On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the right to register a “none of the above” vote in elections should apply, and ordered the Election Commission to provide such a button in the electronic voting machines, noting that it would increase participation.

The Election Commission also clarified that even though votes cast as NOTA are counted, they are considered as invalid votes so they will not change the outcome of the election process. They are not taken into account for calculating the total valid votes and will not be considered for determining the forfeiture of deposit.

In the 2014 general election, NOTA polled 1.1% of the votes, counting to over 6,000,000. The specific symbol for NOTA, a ballot paper with a black cross across it, was introduced on 18 September 2015.

Now the question is if NOTA votes are just invalid votes these votes are useless and how it can help us. The recent election show the importance of NOTA votes. How ?

First let us see the incidents just before the elction. In one of important ruling SC of india give guidelines tried protect human right violations and to stop misuse of SC/ST Act. In oposition a lot of violation and protest happened. Here the duty of govt was to protect Human Right Violations and control the violance. But what govt see was vote bank and they decided to change the ruling given by SC of India and they passed a bill and changed the rulling. In other words we can say they govt decided to go with the vote bank at place of protecting Human Rights and they devided the society into two parts, one whose human rights get violated and second who could violate the human rights of first. It happen because 2nd group presented them as vote bank.

Recent election give a chance to the 1st group to present them as vote bank. The 1st group was having two options either they could choose another party candidate or they could choose not to vote. But they choose NOTA to show their disagrement with present government. And result was amazing they voted for NOTA and they were able to present themselves as vote bank. Present govt already aware of vote bank and use of NOTA was sufficient to tell govt that thay can not ignore the 1st group anymore. Result just after election govt decided to go with the wind and the declared 10% reservation to 1st group.

The incident is not about to show what was lost and what was the gain but to show the power of votebank, and more it is about NOTA how it can be used as vote bank.

Can Men’s Right Activist use NOTA as vote bank ?

Yes they can. They need to come togather and show them as a vote bank.

Are we ready for the same ?

2019 Election will decide if we are ready to be vote bank or not.