Patan: ‘NOTA’ (none of the above) is the buzzword everyone is curious about. Be it a commoner, a politician, a social activist or officials, they are interested in seeing how much the new button on the electronic voting machine, if at all, will change the dynamics of electoral politics in our country.
Like NOTA, another element new to the 2014 parliamentary election is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But a few feel that voting for AAP candidate is better than rejecting other parties through NOTA. Bankipore resident Ritika Verma, 28, is mulling to press the NOTA button if the political parties’ manifestos don’t seem genuine. “All parties have declared their candidates, but I’m waiting for their promises. Women security is my concern, but if I feel their claims are farfetched, I might use NOTA,” she says. However, her younger brother Rishi, who was earlier considering NOTA option, said he would vote for AAP “to give a chance to the new party”.
Fr Philip Manthara, state president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the organization responsible for the inclusion of NOTA in the EVMs, agrees that a section of voters who were earlier thinking of NOTA might vote for AAP. “Voters, especially youngsters, who were disappointed with the traditional parties and were thinking of NOTA, might find an avenue in AAP,” he said, adding, “With NOTA button on the EVMs, political parties will also know the quantum of protest.”
The office of the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Bihar is educating electors about the NOTA option under its systematic voters’ education and electoral participation (SVEEP) programme. “While holding voter awareness camps, we also tell people about the newly introduced NOTA button,” Bihar’s additional CEO R Lakshmanan said. The option will be present at the end of the list but will have no symbol.
Kurji resident Nitin Kumar, who works as an associate systems engineer in Kolkata, will be home during the elections. However, the 24-year-old seems disillusioned with the political system of the country. “AAP looks good from a distance but I don’t think any party deserves my vote,” he says, adding that NOTA will come to his rescue.
While NOTA is not an option that candidates contesting the elections hope the electorate will exercise, it may be mentioned that it will not result in disqualification of candidates in the fray. In simple words, in a constituency of 100 voters, even if 99 press the NOTA button, the person polling a single vote will win the elections. “NOTA is a good option but it would be a waste in India. Such an option is feasible only in areas with 100% literacy,” feels 27-year-old Patna high court lawyer Sumit Kumar Singh.