Including NOTA as a choice Make it meaningful
Not that it has any electoral value, but it is more than obvious that the option, None of the Above (NOTA), has become a choice for some to lodge a protest that he or she prefer not to vote for any of the candidate in the fray. An option which needs serious deliberation. As noted, NOTA has no electoral value, so even if 60 percent of the eligible voters in a Constituency decides to punch the NOTA button on the Electronic Voting Machine, the candidate who receives the largest number of ‘Ayes’ would be declared the winner. Ultimately it seems to be just about giving the voter another choice on voting day and if the voter choose to punch on the NOTA button, the vote will not reflect on the outcome of the election result. This is where a more detailed deliberation on the insertion of the NOTA button on the EVM may be in line. Thanks to the chief spokesperson of the State unit BJP, Ch Bijoy, the NOTA choice is suddenly in the news and while the BJP functionary may have his own reason for announcing that he may very well vote for NOTA on voting day, the time is perhaps opportune for all to seriously study the purpose of including the NOTA choice on the EVM. If it has no electoral value then what is the value of adding that in the EVM, is the natural question that follows. If, say more than 60 percent of the voters decide to go in for NOTA, then should the results hold any water, is a question that may be raised. Expert political commentators may have their own take, but this is one question which the common voter has been raising on more than one occasion and perhaps there is a point in the very act of raising this question. Can a candidate who is declared the winner in an Assembly Constituency but where more than 60 percent of the voters have punched on the NOTA button, be called the representative of the people ? Technically there may be different takes on this, but the very decision to include the NOTA choice on the EVM may need a fresh look. Or make its inclusion on the EVM meaningful.
In the 2017 Assembly election in Manipur, there were 9062 NOTA votes, which constitute just 0.6 percent of the total votes cast. In such a situation, the NOTA vote may not be taken into consideration, but it is significate to note that there were 9062 voters across the 60 Assembly Constituencies, who preferred not to give their consent to any of the candidates who were in the fray. Maybe their choice does not matter, but significant to note that there are people who have said no to the candidates who were in the fray and there well could be more among the candidates who will face the election on February 27 and March 3 this year. May sound radical and impractical, but it will help if the Election Commission of India gives some serious thought to the possibility of over 60 percent of the voters in an Assembly Constituency or a Parliamentary Constituency preferring to go in for the NOTA option. In such a case, wouldn’t it help if election in the said Constituency is declared null and void and maybe another election is held say, after 6 months or even after 12 months ? Afterall the inclusion of the NOTA choice should have more meaning to the people, or else many who have no faith in any of the candidates in the fray may just desist from voting, and such a situation will not be helpful for democracy. Every choice included in the EVM should have some significance and some meaning. The chief spokesperson of the BJP has spoken out and in a way underlined his position but the unfortunate part is, voting for NOTA will not go beyond lodging a symbolic rejection of the candidates in the fray.