Suppose a Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi gets fewer votes than the overall NOTA (None Of The Above) votes and based on the post-election outcome, becomes the prime minister of the country – wouldn’t it be ridiculous, wouldn’t it be sacrilegious, when a candidate rejected by the majority of the electorate is given the charge to run a democratic country.

Okay, it is not going to be the case with Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi of the moment, but we should not be surprised, if we get an election result with significant number of seats showing significantly higher share of NOTA votes even in the very first election implementing the ‘Right To Reject’ option. Recently, the Supreme Court made it mandatory and asked the Election Commission of India to introduce the NOTA option on EVMs (electronic voting machines) and ballot papers.

On an average, 30-40 per cent voters do not vote in elections in India we find if we carry a voter turnout analysis of different elections. Reasons vary for not participating in the elections but the major reason has been the voter’s apathy to the electoral process where he finds the political parties or the candidates in fray not worthy of being elected.

As the voter did not have any option to express his displeasure than to go to the booth, complete the formalities like getting the designated finger the ink-marked, approach the polling officer and tell him he did not want to cast his vote as he found none of the candidates were worthy. The officer then would make his entry in a prescribed form and would take his signature or thumb impression. A complex, tedious and repulsive process that didn’t promise the voter secrecy of his decision! And having no secrecy with such decisions, at local level, with a polluted Indian politics, may well have its consequences.

So, the option was there but was not practical. In fact, was illogical. Also, many would not be aware that this option (right? – Section 49-O of The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961) even exists.

But after the Supreme Court order making it easier and thus practical to exercise this right as well as ensuring the secrecy, we can expect significant jump in the voter turnout, and a significant portion of this jump would certainly be the NOTA votes, voters who don’t vote because they don’t approve the candidates.

Yes, this is going to be a long-term process, spread over elections. But an upward trend of surge in NOTA votes would inspire others, who do not cast their votes for similar reasons, to participate in the electoral process.

It is true, India is still not a mature democracy and elections are not fought on development issues but on silly considerations of caste, religion and regionalism. It is true voters do not react maturely when they select candidates on these lines, when they select tainted candidates and candidates with criminal cases against them, when the elect candidates languishing in jails.

But this simple way to empower them with an option to reject all would certainly push them, who waste their vote by voting on silly considerations, to think otherwise, if not tomorrow, then, in the long run, when rejection of candidates would become a sustained trend election after election.

Also, another objection by the naysayers is this ‘Right To Reject’ is not rejection in real terms. Even if the NOTA votes polled are 20 per cent of the overall votes cast, it cannot disqualify a wining candidate even if he gets just 10 percent of the overall votes. True! But, for how long can this irresponsible show continue?

Obviously, there would be voices. And the demands would intensify with increasing share of NOTA votes in the overall vote-pie.

That would set in motion the fight to demand the ‘Right To Recall’ and hence subsequently, the ‘Right To Reelection’, cancelling election process in constituencies with share of NOTA votes dwarfing votes gained by all other candidates, recalling poorly performing candidates and holding the polls again to select the suitable candidates.

Once, the ‘Right To Reject’ becomes a practiced electoral process in the country with voters effectively using it, lawmakers cannot continue with their sham without its visible public consequences.

Yes, it is not going to happen soon. But the best outcome of this Supreme Court decision is it is going to open fronts for further ‘rightful’ demands in the future of Indian democracy.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


  1. N O T A ( None Of The Above )

    It is a good thing that , during next month’s State Assembly elections , Election Commission will add , on the EVM ( Electronic Voting Machines ) , a button marked , “ NOTA “

    No doubt , at the behest of the Supreme Court

    By itself , that may not prevent corrupt and/or criminally-charged candidates from getting elected, but it is a good beginning nevertheless

    If ALL the voters do come out to vote and a great majority of them click, NOTA in a particular constituency , then we may safely assume that none of the contesting candidate is CLEAN , in the eyes of the voters

    And if the list of the candidates appearing on EVM , includes a person who is a CURRENT MLA , then people’s verdict is loud and clear ,

    “ You have failed us . Get out and make way for an honest person “

    But the electoral reforms will remain incomplete , till voters get a right to,

     Cast a NEGATIVE VOTE against any particular candidate instead of the entire panel

     Recall a inefficient and/or corrupt existing MLA , anytime during tenure

    People of Delhi !

    With an AAP candidate to choose in each and every constituency , you don’t need NOTAP ( None of the above person )

    On 4th Dec , just go out and “ Vote-AAP “ ! No less than 40 !

    You already have a THIRD FRONT !

    • hemen parekh ( 08, Oct 2013 )

  2. Honest Cannot Win ?

    Recently , a leading political leader is supposed to have said ,

    “ Honest people cannot win elections “

    A few weeks earlier , another leader publicly claimed ,

    “ For winning my election , I had spent Rs 10 Crores by way of election expenses “
    [ But when cornered by the Election Commission , he gave some clever / imaginative , explanations and interpretations of his statement ! ]

    Everyone – including the voters – know that the actual expenses to fight an election do run up from a few lakhs ( for a Municipal Election ) to a few crores ( for MP / MLA seat )

    By prescribing a ridiculously low limit ( for such expenses ) , we ourselves are responsible to turn – otherwise honest politicians , into liars ! ( Not that there are many of them ! )

    Unless Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP ) candidates fighting Delhi State Assembly Elections prove that it IS possible to fight – and win – elections , within the expenses limit prescribed by the Law !

    People of Delhi !

    You have a chance to prove that “ Honesty Pays “

    By electing at least 40 AAP candidates on 4th December

    • hemen parekh ( 11 Oct 2013 )

  3. When will People win ?

    > BJP leaders are saying,

    ” On our own , we will win 272+ seats in Lok Sabha ”

    > AAP says ,

    ” We will win 47+ seats in Delhi ”

    > Congress says ,

    ” We will form the next government at the center ”

    > Regional parties are saying ,

    ” Third front will win and come to power ”

    > Herr Gobbels , propaganda minister of Hitler , said ,

    ” Tell a lie a hundred times and it will get accepted as truth ”

    > Sundry ” Pre-poll Opinion Surveys ” predict ,

    ” Saffron will lead everywhere but they will fall short of
    absolute majority

    NDA – 2 will suffer from the same debilitating disease as
    with UPA – 2 , viz : Coalition Dharma ”

    > Voters are saying ,

    ” Stop mud-slinging , name-calling , abusing each other

    Stop trying to bribe us by offering free rice , tablets ,
    smartphones etc

    Stop begging us to vote for you

    For a change , listen to what WE are telling YOU

    We will vote to power , only that party , which firmly commits
    itself in Poll Manifesto , following :

    ‘ Within 100 days of coming to power , we will amend the Representation of Peoples Act , enabling voters of any constituency to RECALL its elected MP / MLA , if they are unhappy with his / her performance , at the end of 6 months of being elected ‘

    For a change , We , the People , want to win – and permanently !

    Once every month , we want our elected Representative to hold a public meeting in our locality and tell us what he has done for us during the preceding 30 days – against the TARGETS that we set for him / her !

    If MPs / MLAs want to triple their salaries – no problem !

    Unlike the politicians ,when we demand a resignation , we get it !

    No more ” Fixed Tenures ” !

    * hemen parekh ( 07 Nov 2013 )

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