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OPINION | Why NOTA is not a relevant option in a healthy democracy

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OPINION: Why NOTA is not a relevant option in a healthy democracy
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“If anybody is upset with the incumbent government, he/she can vote out the ruling government from the power when elections will take place given the right every individual has under healthy democracy. …”

By Abhishek Dhar
4 Nov 2020

NOTA stands for ‘None of the Above’. It’s relevance with Indian elections is that it gives the votes an option by rejecting all the contesting candidates from a seat by officially registering a vote. NOTA voters are basically rejecting all the candidates who are contestingfrom a seat during the process of voting or choosing a government for state assemblies and general elections.  

However, NOTA votes are invalid votes and didn’t impact the resulting scenario, if somehow NOTA gets more votes than any candidate who are contesting. Hence, NOTA votes are never taken into consideration when calculating the total valid votes. But it has everything in contrast to democracy. 

Democracy simply means government for the people, of the people and by the people. In other words, democracy is the rule of the people. So, by choosing the option of NOTA while voting, whom we are choosing? Are we showing our allegiance to the Indian constitution? Is it another concept to throw the incumbent government out considering it favours those who are not in power by clipping huge votes? 

If the last one is the case, then again it is contradicting the basic tenants of the democracy. If anybody is upset with the incumbent government, he/she can vote out the ruling government from the power when elections will take place given the right every individual has under healthy democracy. 

Many NOTA advocates are now seeking fresh elections if NOTA votes achieve highest votes in any constituency. Considering the unlikely scenario of NOTA polling highest votes, and fresh polls being called, now think what are we achieving – another election to choose new or desired candidate defeating the basic objective of the NOTA itself. If eventually, we have to choose a candidate from a specific political party or an independent candidate, then what is its purpose, its aim and meaning in a healthy democratic country like India.

Then, why many choose NOTA over several other candidates in an election? The answer to this question lies in the fact that many candidates contesting the election are illiterate or with less knowledge of public grievances and public policy. Many candidates and representatives of a political party are often with a criminal background leaving fewer choices for the public. To address this concern, law and order situation should be fixed allowing anyone interested to contest elections without fear and for that sake, political parties need to back such candidates with intellectual mindset. They should not only rely on mass gainers. These should be the focal points instead of an ill-designed and directionless NOTA. 

Author Bio:- Akhilesh Dhar is a media trainee and Journalism undergrad at DY Patil International University, Pune. He primarily focuses to cover latest political developments in the country with an interest in conflict and defence based reportage. He had interned with national media outlets like MyNation and Zee Business and with media agency IANS. He is frequent contributor to the various regional and national news media portals. 

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