Give Teeth to NOTA : We Want Good Political Candidates
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Mr Sunil Arora,
Chief Election Commissioner of India
Dear Mr Arora
As we head into a historical general election, the country is looking to you to ensure a free and fair election in which political parties field the right candidates – that is, persons who are committed to good governance and nation building.
In order to ensure this, we appeal to you and your fellow election commissioners to help bring about a positive and long-lasting change that gives more meaning to our democracy and the universal adult franchise.
One way to do it is to give more power to the NOTA (None Of The Above) button on voting machines.
One of your predecessors, Mr T S Krishnamurthy has already given a call to hold elections in a constituency again if NOTA has polled the highest votes. As he says, India’s first-past-the-post system has already outlived its utility and people are getting impatient with the quality of options presented to them by political parties. Consider several recent examples:
1. At the recent assembly elections in five states, NOTA performed better than many well known political parties.
2. Even in the Karnataka elections in May 2018, NOTA polled more than many political parties.
3. In 30 constituencies of Gujarat, NOTA outscored the winning margin.
We understand that you plan to seek the view of political parties on this issue. Sir, we urge you to seek the views of us, the people of India, as well.
Many people who are frustrated at the lack of options, but consider NOTA a waste of their vote. A decision to call for a re-poll when NOTA scores the highest, will give empower citizens and force political parties to think.
More importantly, this decision may NOT EVEN BE TESTED. Political parties are smart and know how to win elections. If they realise that their usual tricks (dummy candidates, multiple candidates, freebies and other inducements) will not work, they will ensure that they choose candidates with a record of good public service and not the ones who can spend the most public money.
At one stroke you, as head of the Election Commission, would have changed the quality of our democratic process post 2019, just as T N Sheshan had changed the quality of the election process.
Please give teeth to NOTA by calling for a re-poll when NOTA polls the highest votes. It is your decision and one that will lead to a historical change.
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