None Of The Above option to remain symbolic: SC

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  • Tuesday, October 15, 2013
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  • Source:ET

    JAIPUR: The 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) option introduced by Election Commission in the forthcoming assembly elections will remain a symbolic one. According to an EC circular, even if NOTA received maximum votes, the candidate with second highest number of votes will be declared elected.

    In compliance of the Supreme Court decision on NOTA, the Election Commission has asked chief electoral officers (CEO) of all states to include this option in voting machines. The commission would be experimenting with it for the first time in the elections to be held in five states.

    "Even if in any extreme case, the number of votes in favour of NOTA is more than the number of votes secured by the candidates, the candidate who secures the largest number of votes among the contesting candidates shall be declared be elected as per the provisions of Rule 64 of Representation of People's Act," said the notification.

    Officials of the EC maintained that the SC has just asked to give voters an option to show their non-preference of candidates. The present provision of law says that votes of NOTA should be counted. But it will not impede the selection of candidate from that constituency. We are using it for the first time and let see how the process evolves further," said Ashok Jain, chief electoral officer, Rajasthan.

    Other officials in EC say that unless the SC or the Parliament makes any law on the disqualification of candidates and call for fresh elections, the option will have only symbolic meaning. "Let us see how it works out. There is possibility that one day consensus will be made that people rejecting contestants through NOTA will lead to re-election," said the senior official of EC.

    Experts, though asserts for more electoral reform but claim that NOTA is still a positive step. "It will have some effect on the political parties. If people prefer for NOTA over others, it will send a message to them that their choice of candidates is not right and we are unhappy," said Nikhil Dey of Rajasthan Election Watch.

    Also it will encourage those who restrained from voting over the choice of candidates fielded. At least now they have option to express their displeasure. If 10% of the voters give their vote to NOTA it will be a slap on the parties," added Dey.

    Meanwhile, voters, dismayed by the probable contestants in fray, are all set to use NOTA. "I know if I vote for NOTA, it will eventually have no meaning. But right to reject has given me enough reason to go and vote. At least now I can go and say that I don't like these candidates," said Rahul Tolumbia, an IT professional.


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