NOTA option barely impresses voters in Delhi LS polls

Last Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 20:10

New Delhi: Although hailed as a historic electoral reform, the None of The Above (NOTA) option did not find many takers during the General Elections in the national capital on Thursday.

As Delhi witnessed a tripartite electoral battle between BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party, there were many voters who seemed disenchanted with the candidates but still chose not to tap the newly included NOTA button considering it as a "wastage of vote".

On being asked about its relevance, a female voter in Laxmi Nagar said, "We could have stayed back at home instead of coming here to vote. I am not standing in this queue to go and press the NOTA button. It is useless."
Rishi, a 24-year-old first time voter lacked the vigour of a quintissential first timer and said, "I am disappointed with the political system of our country. I am not even excited to cast my first ever Lok Sabha vote.

"I know I will be wasting my vote, but NOTA is weighing over my mind as I enter the polling station because I don`t think NOTA would make a difference," he said before casting his vote at Kutcha Natwa in Chandni Chowk constituency.

The Supreme Court in its direction on September 27 last provided NOTA option on the Electronic Voting Machine and ballot papers so that the electors who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise this option in secrecy.

The apex court`s judgement was first implemented after the option was made available in the Assembly polls in five states last year, including Delhi.

While the general trend in Chandni Chowk and East Delhi constituency outrightly dubbed the new option as "wastage of voting power" and termed it "stupid", NOTA found a handful takers in South Delhi and New Delhi constituencies.
"I don`t want NOTA because when I came to the polling station I know which party to vote for. If you have a choice then why waste the vote," said Shiv Sahay Gupta, 59, who voted in South Delhi constituency.

"I got to know about the NOTA option from various campaigns and also through newspapers. But I didn`t exercise it because I believe using that option is like boycotting the elections," said Sunanada, a Delhi University student. On the other hand, there were people who held the belief
that NOTA will prove to be a useful option to convey electorate`s dissatisfaction with their candidates.

"I believe NOTA is a useful option. There are instances when all candidates have criminal backgrounds, in such a situation it is better to go for NOTA," said a voter from East Delhi constituency`s Azad Nagar area.

"If NOTA has been implemented there will be benefit. The people who decided this move are intelligent enough to give it space on the EVM, we should not discard their wisdom," a voter from New Delhi constituency said.

Jasod Singh, 63, after exercising his franchise said, "NOTA is important as it will represent our feeling that we have lost faith in all the candidates. It is a form of expression for us. Pressing NOTA means you are protesting against the party".

Even as NOTA remains a debatable issue as though it enables the voters to exercise their franchise in secrecy, the law does not say that if the number of votes recorded for the NOTA option is more than the highest number of votes recorded by any of the candidates, it will adversely affect his/her election.

"I would consider the NOTA option this time, since I am not satisfied with the party I voted for in the Delhi Assembly Elections, and the others are known to be cheating the voters for years," said Prashant Dahiya, a Civil Service aspirant.

There were also some who remained unaware of any such option despite widespread campaigning.
Family members Madhu (33), Kusum(28), Phoolwati (38), visibly excited to be part of the biggest electoral exercise in the world, had no knowledge of such an option available for voters.

"I didn`t know that such an option exists. But even if it was I would have voted for some party only. Why waste a precious vote?," said Sandeep, a first time voter at Timarpur polling station said.

"We didn`t know about any such option. All the parties kept on campaigning for themselves, so we thought we were forced to choose one of the contestants," said Kishwar Lal, who was accompanied by his wife and brother.

However, the electorate aware of the option, mostly rejected exercising it.

Social activist Varsha Goel who runs a campaign to promote voting was among the early voters today but rejected the idea of NOTA.

"The NOTA system is not the rejection of our candidate but the rejection of our votes," she said.

"I`m excited because it is my first time and I feel each and every vote is important, so people should not waste it by pressing NOTA or remaining at home," said Sahil Rawat, 19 from New Delhi constituency.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 20:10

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