Despite Higher Vote Share NOTA Fails To Impact Assembly Elections

The electioneering process in five state assemblies got completed with Biren Singh too sailing through the trust vote on the floor in Manipur yesterday, the 20th March 2017. Not surprisingly Manohar Parrikar had already got through in Goa assembly floor test on 16th March. With clear verdict in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, the governments had already been formed in these three states.

But the unclear verdict and the government formation with stage management in Manipur and Goa in the face of hung verdict of people poses a question on the electoral process our country is going through. Is it a franchise akin to NOTA (None Of The Above) exercised by the electoral for a candidate?

Notified by the Election Commission of India in October 2013 in compliance of the judgement of honourable Supreme Court of India dated 27th September 2013, the provision of NOTA (None of the above) option has been widely used in this assembly elections. The option was given so that voters can exercise their right not to vote for any candidate without violation of the secrecy of their decision.

In the recent assembly elections in five states nearly 9 lac voters across the country opted to press the NOTA button on the EVM. Not surprisingly with the largest electoral Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 7 lac voters opting to push this button which was nearly one percent of the total votes cast.

In Uttarakhand too the vote share of NOTA was nearly one percent with some 50,000 voters opting for this button.

In Punjab the NOTA vote share was 0.7 percent while it was the highest 1.2 percent in Goa.

Notified in the year 2013 by the Election Commission, the NOTA vote share was insignificant in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Though the number of voters seem to have become more vocal in raising their voice against all the candidates in the fray, the big question is how useful this option is going to be in the largest democracy of the world.

The Election Commission considers NOTA votes as invalid even though these are counted but unfortunately are not accounted for in the final verdict. There is no provision that if the NOTA vote share increases a given certain percent, the election to that particular assembly seat or to the booth will be considered as invalid and a re election ordered.

And further, the party not being able to garner majority seats is debarred from making post poll arrangements amounting to horse trading or money power.

In the assembly elections one may not be surprised to find that there were parties which were minuscule even by the NOTA vote share. There is a need to debar such parties and individuals who fail to get a given qualifying percent of votes from contesting in future as such parties and individuals only amount to spoiling the race cart with division of votes. Not to forget that they are simply dummy candidates of certain parties out to play the spoil sport.

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