Right to Vote

Nota and National Voters’ Day

Harasankar Adhikari

The Election Commission of India observed the National Voters' Day on 25th January primarily "to increase enrolment of voters and to spread awareness among voters regarding effective participation in the electoral process". This is undoubtedly an appropriate approach for strengthening democracy. It would help to revive the electoral process as prime goal of democracy. At the same time, the Election Commission of India puts an option in EVM system as NOTA to 'uphold the right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections, saying it would go a long way in cleansing the political system of the country'. But is it effective and fair practice in electoral system when the Election Commission of India fails to assure fearless voting?

Because booth jump, threatening to voters and violence at booth area by the dominating political party becomes regular events on the day of a vote. The voters of India, celebrate this day as a festival. Even they stand in the queue wearing with new dresses. It has been observed that at present, every political party participates in the vote with the agenda of muscle power, creating fear and violence, money/materials and so forth. The participants' political parties campaign what happiness they would bring if they win and form government. But in their campaign development aspects are only as saying to the voters. They (ruling party) discuss more about reliefs given to the people during the particular term because relief services are considered as development and progress measures. More reliefs would provide, if they win and form government. On the other hand, opposition parties criticise about the faults in distribution of reliefs, and leaders of the ruling government involved in corruption and violence, etc. Major issues of development and self-reliance of the voters are hardly touched.

Voters lose their interest to assert their democratic voting rights because,
a)    Voters think that the political party has no basic ethics and values in practice by which voters would be motivated and inspired. Basically, the political party is hungry for power and authority. In practice, it does not obey the voters what it does at the time of business;
b)    Politics and political party have lost fair practice in administration;
c)    Generation of wealth/assets/money of an elected member reminds their interest of involvement in politics and corruption, etc.;
d)    Involvement in fear politics is another cause;
e)    Protection of voters' interest is left far behind in daily administration;
f)     An elected representative is unavailable during crises of voters, or they harass voters if they are not their party members.

There are so many reasons of upholding the right of voters. They become disrespectful to this political system. Therefore, is NOTA a right step to honour the voters who reject all the contesting candidates? It would influence the voters to uphold their right to vote to save them from various unexpected incidences like fair practices in polling both, violence and threatening. They know voting to NOTA is ultimately a process of cancellation of their rights. So, avoiding from voting is safe and secure.

The Election Commission might ensure the safety of voters at first. Is it not that NOTA is against the celebration of the National Voters' Day? So, the celebration of the National Voters' Day is value-less.

Vol. 50, No.32, Feb 11 - 17, 2018