NOTA (NONE OF THE ABOVE) option made its way into Indian democracy, not in the distant past. It was welcomed with scepticism by the people as a necessary option. Elections after elections, the number of voters who push the NOTA button continues to increase as was evident in the recently concluded assembly elections of Tamilnadu, Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Pondicherry where many constituencies had NOTA votes bigger than the victory margin. The significance is when a number of NOTA votes exceeds the victory margin, it plays a direct role in changing the outcome of poll results.
There are two very important questions which need the attention of concerned citizens of the country with respect to NOTA.
1. What does the political class infer from the increasing NOTA votes? Are they understanding what the people are conveying through NOTA?
2. Have the people understood NOTA and its role in a representative democracy?
Message to the politicians
To answer the first question, the political parties do not seem to be bothered about the increasing number of votes on the NOTA option. It could be that political parties are waiting until the number of NOTA votes crosses 50% of the votes polled before they take it seriously. The reason behind voting for NOTA goes beyond the classical definition of ‘not happy with the candidates’. People who have given up on the electoral process or in the politics of country also are choosing NOTA. So NOTA is becoming an option for people to vent out their frustration. The political parties should keep their ears to the ground and do not let this frustration increase among the voters. An increasing number of NOTA voters means more than just clean candidates.
May the power be with the voters
To answer the second question, i.e if voters are using NOTA for the intended purpose, let us look at how our representative democracy has morphed into a presidential one. Today we barely vote for their MLA or MP, voters vote based on one pivotal figure of a particular party. So NOTA which was supposed to give a feedback on the quality of the candidate of a particular constituency lacks steam now given the presidential type of elections that is happening in India despite being a representative one. It is for this reason, the quality of candidates is barely being debated and as consequence NOTA has lost its tooth.
The Logical Indian appeals to voters bring back the true spirit of representative democracy by making the MLA/MP and their qualities and capabilities at the centre of making the decision for whom to vote. We appeal to the political parties to raise their bar and improve the quality of their candidates now before there is mass loss of confidence in the electoral process given the increasing number of voters for the NOTA option.