ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Not Good for Democracy

On 27 September 2013 the Supreme Court (SC), while delivering its judgment in favour of including the option of “none of the above” (NOTA) in the list of candidates in an election had said, “for democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen … for proper governance of the country. This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values who win the elections on a positive vote.” Common people, particularly those having faith in democracy, shared their joy and viewed this judgment as a forward step for Indian democracy. Welcoming it, the former chief election commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami opined that “recognition of ‘negative voting’ as a constitutional right is by all means a big step forward for the voter”. He further said, “NOTA will indeed compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate”.

The reason behind this optimism is quite obvious as after a long passage of more than a half century of democracy, it is for the first time the voters of the country have the ability to reject all the candidates put up in their respective constituencies and that the fear of getting NOTA votes will push parties to distribute tickets to proper candidates. Manjari Katju’s analysis in your pages (“The ‘None of the Above’ Option”, EPW, 19 October 2013) pointed out to the possible problems with these assumptions and showed that in most places of the world where such devices have been used, they have not really had much of an impact.

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