Monday, September 27, 2021
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NOTA reforming Indian elections

BJP these days frequently lost to NOTA in recent Gujarat and Karnataka elections, the Modi wave has faded and his dream of Congress-mukt Bharat proved to be a foot in mouth. The saffron party polled in favour of “None of the Above” category. It depends upon what do you expect from the relevance of its outcome. In the current constitutional reign, it is impossible to have “right to recall” – therefore, NOTA would not organise re-contesting of ‘good’ candidates. But, however, NOTA serve as a vote of protest because it helps the voters to register their annoyance against political dispiritedness. It is a good indicator of representing the social concern to the political fraternity that the status quo is malfunctioned.

NOTA is not counted as the negative voting and no media ever discussed the same. Politicians are concerned only about winning the elections. They are not going to check how many voters are annoyed with the system or how many did not vote for politicians like him. But still this is one effort to inform the politician and his political party that nothing is all right, if you give us wrong preference.

In 2014, people trusted Narendra Modi and gave votes on the promises he made without checking the credentials of the candidates they got in their constituency. Cult of the personality is a curse in BJP. No doubt, Modi is a good leader, a good administrator who has done a stellar job in Gujarat. But that does not mean he has proven to be a good PM. Let’s not hide his flaws. He is still a BJP leader. Even within BJP, he had to arm- twist his way to the top. His party and online supporters keep spamming on every website with propaganda. They should focus on highlighting development works undertaken by their party than propagating attacks on rivals. It’s easy to not go back on promises when you don’t make any promises. Modi’s speeches are filled with passionate bombast about all that he states; let it be wrong history or the Nehru-Gandhi attacks. There’s very little clarity on what he wants to achieve.

BJP has many candidates in Cabinet with criminal cases filed against them. How my India will shine under such criminal candidates? Modiji’s election promise was to show doors to corrupt, but when he came to power he got pally with them and declared them clean by giving admission in BJP. Modi government never answered any RTI queries that can land them into the trap; otherwise so far many corruption cases against BJP could have been exposed. RTI activists are in agony, their RTI applications are not responded which leads to the pendency of thousands of applications. Gujarat RTI Activists Association, which has around 5,000 members and there are around 14,000 RTI applications pending at different stages in various departments of the state government. According to them, these RTIs can expose corruption on a larger scale. BJP is very smartly dealing with not letting their corruption get exposed. Many RTI activists have received threats to life, RTI Activist Amit Jethwa was murdered and BJP MP Dinu Bogha Solanki has been held. In April 2012, Modiji passed a new bill, The Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog allows him to choose the Lokayukta of his own choice. As he blocked Lokayukta from investigating any cases against him or his cabinet ministers; later, removed the primacy of High Court chief justice and the Governor in the appointment of Lokayukta. In 2014, after coming to power voters thought he will bring Jan Lokpal bill, but so far he bullied everyone on that. Anna Hazare did some drama of protection and disappeared.

Narrow Nationalism is another issue; extreme rightist ideas (well I’m against the extreme leftist ideas too) forcible Nationalism, beef ban, gau rakshaks, Hindutva politics, now started to appease minorities and Dalits too. Nehru was criticised during the election campaign in 2014. Now it’s 2018, what he has done so far? India is highly leaning towards capitalist ideas that will further increase inequalities in our society. Whatever it may be GST or demonetisation everything will benefit business class only. Nothing has been done to solve the core issues of farmers so far at the grassroot level. There are plenty of government schemes on the paper but on the field, who cares?

During 2014 election campaign, Modi promised to recover the money from Swiss account and deposit it in Indian citizens’ account. What happened to it? Demonetisation has claimed many lives; GST has compromised many small scale businesses. Rich businessmen absconded from India duping the banks in huge defaults. Petrol, travel, basic commodity, house, everything has shoot up. Life has become difficult for the common man. Aadhaar is another failed idea. GST, the central tax system has illegally taken the power of the state tax. Gold biscuits price has gone low and peanut biscuits price has increased. In such circumstances people are clueless and the choices to vote for are limited. NOTA shows that a person took the effort to vote, but X political party failed to convince this voter that they were a good option (or even a bearable 2nd choice). X party didn’t even get the voter to vote for them just to oppose another candidate.

Now this shows X party that they failed – either in action, or in making good enough promises, or in reaching the message about their actions and promises to the NOTA voter. In this scenario, the people are generally happy with their options.

India entered the ‘NOTA age’ as it were in 2013, after the Supreme Court’s judgement that giving the voter the right not to vote for any candidate was extremely important in a democracy. The Law Commission of India and the Election Commission were also in approval of giving the voter the right to reject all candidates. Such an option gives the voter the right to express his disapproval with the kinds of candidates that are nominated by the political parties. This is something that all political parties have to take note of. It could add a new dimension to our electoral politics.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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