RIGHT TO REJECT – NONE OF THE ABOVE – BRAVO! CHEERS!

Right To Reject – None Of The Above – Bravo! Cheers!

It is evolutionary. It is revolutionary.

It is so soothing to the ears. It is unlike those so many competitive examinations that every Indian of this generation takes or the future generations are bound to go through where ‘none of the above’ option of the multiple choice questions are, many a time, a hard nut to crack, creating line of thoughts and thus confusion to pin-point the correct one.

Here, it is going to be the natural choice in ‘many cases (many candidates)’ – ‘none of the above’ being the correct and so the chosen answer.

It would be the beginning of such occasions, hopefully, if implemented, where we are going to have the NOTA (None Of The Above) option chosen, and chosen correctly by the majority of the Indians and there would, obviously, be no fixing allegations here.

Right to Reject in polls is a reality now after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision today. Let’s see what innovation (manipulation) is offered by the politicians of India to negate it – the way they are working overtime to shield the tainted, convicted of their lot.

Also, there will be loads of wisdom flowing on its ‘if and buts’, on its ‘theoretical and practical aspects’ and on its maintainability but it is an evolutionary decision that, if survives the fangs of political manipulation, could revolutionize the systemic change in the electoral process, as the bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, P. Sathashivam, said while delivering the judgement on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) demanding the right to negative voting, and so would be a boon to cleanse the political muck in the country.

What is remarkable about this decision is it makes things easier for the voter while maintains secrecy of his decision and so makes his right more accessible to him by introducing a much needed correction.

In fact, there is a provision in the election rules in India (49-O – The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961) on electors not deciding to vote. It says: If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

So, there was already an option for an elector to reject the candidates in his constituency but the process was tedious and was open to the risk of being targeted by the supporters (including the political goons) of the candidates once the name went public.

The Supreme Court decision would make it easier by introducing the ‘None Of The Above’ button in the electronic voting machine (EVM) or option on the ballot paper. The elector can easily exercise his Right To Reject without the requirement to approach the presiding officer of the poll booth putting his decision on paper and so risking being targeted later on. The Supreme Court has also ruled the secrecy of NOTA votes ‘must’ be maintained.

Though the apex court has not set any deadline for it, we can expect it to be rolled out in the upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Mizoram this November-December with a pro poll-reform guard at the Election Commission of India.

Implementation of the Right To Reject option in the electoral process cannot change the disturbing political reality of India in one go but it is potent enough to initiate a chain reaction for further demands of electoral reforms and probity in public life.

Until now, very few politically conscious people have been using this right but with increased ease and accessibility, it can be expected that there would be a ripple effect, a ‘Spiral of Silence’ pattern of outcome where a silent but increasing number of the NOTA votes would inspire others to join the voice of conscience. It would bring the voters to the polling booths who otherwise don’t vote because they don’t approve any candidate in the fray.

Okay, this individual right to reject all the contesting candidates in a constituency by voting negatively is not going to result in the rejection even if the overall NOTA votes outperform the votes received by the winning candidate. But, for how long?

Imagine the scenario where every concluded election registers an ever increasing number of constituencies opting to reject all the candidates with the NOTA votes outdoing votes received by all others.

The would be the natural ground to demand the Right To Recall the ‘wrongly’ elected candidates and the Right To Reelection to get a better people’s representative.

How long can such legitimate demands be ignored or ‘suppressed’ in the changed scenario?

Politicians! Beware!

Though rare, it’s the real democratic tango of Indian democracy!

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

TENS OF THOUSANDS ARRIVED TO WELCOME HIM OUT OF JAIL: WHY DEMOCRACY IN INDIA IS IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DISINTEGRATION?

September 2013

Thousands gathered outside the jail to greet him.

Tens of thousands arrived in Hyderabad to welcome him, to join the procession to his journey back to home, from the Chanchalguda prison to his palatial house in Hyderabad’s posh locality, Banjara Hills.

As if, a freedom fighter fighting some colonial oppression or an activist resisting a authoritarian government was coming out of jail. But sadly it wasn’t the case.

And that is acidic for the democratic health of the country. This celebration was, once again, representative of a deteriorating mindset of the masses. Yes, it is a deteriorating mindset that owes its sustenance to the continued political manipulation of the masses.

It is acidic because the person was detained in jail against charges of corruption. In a short time, he has amassed huge wealth. In his area of influence, he is seen as a strongman. We fail to trace his political history beyond his political lineage. Apart from amassing disproportionate assets, he has not done anything to be known as a great politician, a humane politician, in making. Yet, he has emerged as a big political alternative, in course of three years only.

That is certainly not good for the democratic spirit of the nation because the malaise here represents the larger malaise in the society where people fail to understand what is right or wrong and how corruption is eating the concept of the ‘Republic of India’; where people fail to put politicians facing serious allegations out of the office till such politicians prove their innocence.

The person in question was in jail for the last 16 months on many counts of violations in Disproportional Assets (DA) case. The ‘symbolically central’ Central Bureau of Investigation has filed 10 charge-sheets against him in the DA case.

Son of a popular politician, who was also a former chief-minister, the fellow is a powerful politician, running a diversified business empire. His jail-term is supposed to correlate with his assets, that are, by most analyses, disproportionate in nature.

It was alleged and widely reported that when the powerful politician father of this powerful politician son had died in an unfortunate helicopter crash in 2009, fake reports of several people dying of shock of the untimely demise of the great leader were propped to gain mileage of political sympathy. Silly!

As a natural corollary to the dynasty politics in India, nurtured and propagated by the most powerful Delhi-based political family of India, this powerful politician son demanded to succeed his father’s chief-ministerial chair, a chair that was denied to him.

Miffed with the denial of the royal chair of the chief-minster ship, he broke away from the grand old political party of India and formed his own political outfit. And in remarkable turn of events, in a pseudo-democracy with an alienated and ignorant electorate, he emerged as a strong political force in a short period of time, and so a political threat. That could have been a call for the opponents to move in 2011.

Threat to the establishment in office and court’s interventions were motives enough for the shambolic CBI to act differently from its character. Subsequently, resultantly, this powerful politician was forced behind bars and left there languishing for 16 months.

But, he kept on growing politically stronger and became even more relevant for the political equations in the changed circumstances after the Union government announced bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Maintaining a strong anti-Telangana stand and riding on a strong support base in the Seemandhra region could have changed the thinking of the grand old party of India that is facing an imminent danger of being wiped out in Andhra Pradesh after the bifurcation decision taken by the Congress led Union Government.

The political cliché that there are no friends or foes in politics shows us this ugly face of Indian politics, that, with a largely ignorant electorate, is eroding the democratic health of the country; is polluting whatever that is left in the name of democracy in India.

Whatever be the reality of the reported deals, between his political outfit YSRCP and the Congress, or of the BJP’s feelers to him criticising the CBI for his plight, we are going to witness some uglier political deal-making in the days to come.

No denial to this fact that Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of the former Andhra Pradesh chief minster Y S Rajashekara Reddy, has amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income.

The detention for 16 months of a son of a powerful politician with a regional clout tells us of the veracity of allegations. Had it been the case of some common man, who could even be one of Mr. Reddy’s die-hard supporters, like those swarming outside the Chanchalguda jail or on Hyderabad roads leading to the Jagan’s house, we could have believed a detention of 16 months was possible even if all the charges were false. Running a strong media empire and sitting on huge assets, Mr. Reddy had access to the resources, to finest of the legal minds in the country.

What becomes finally of Mr. Reddy in courts in his corruption cases will take a long time. It could go even beyond his lifetime. And meanwhile, he will keep enjoying his political kingdom with loyal supporters in the world’s largest democracy.

And Mr. Reddy is not alone. He is just one among the countless of the politicians facing serious corruption allegations. And he is just one among this lot of the countless that continues to enjoy to public support in spite of serious corruption allegations. Making people with serious corruption allegations politically stronger is also corruption and we are making so many of the breed stronger with every election.

That is detrimental to the democratic concept of India envisioned in its Constitution.

It reflects again and again in celebrations like these.

*“Why democracy in India is in imminent danger of disintegration?’ is a regular column on my blogging platforms to take a periodic look (say a weekly or a fortnightly or a monthly round-up of events depending on the factors in play) on political developments that are dangerous to the democratic health of the country and contribute to the process of social disintegration of the nation..”
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/why-democracy-in-india-is-in-imminent-danger-of-disintegration/

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