Would we not feel empowered as citizens of a democratic nation, when we walk up to the polling booth and press the ‘ None of the above’ button on the EVM(Electronic Voting Machine) to express our choice, our mandate against unworthy candidates who are by design thrust upon us by the various parties in exchange for money bags?
When City Express spoke to disgruntled, disillusioned voters about the option of having a 49-O button on the EVMs, there was a roaring response.
Jaganath Rao, a retired bank official reacted with gusto and said, “ Certainly, I am 100 percent sure, more people will come to vote and exercise 49-0. Today the reason, many of the educated middle class do not come and vote is because they do not like the candidates and the present system of registering 49-O in the Form -17. A register takes away the secrecy of ballot.”
Siddharth Sharma who has been exercising 49-O for the last 10 years is also one of the founders of Aam Aadmi Party and seriously working to educate the public. “I think after 65 years of democracy, we need to move forward from being a representative democracy towards becoming a transparent, participatory democracy. Right now, 49-O is not counted and it has no teeth. It is time that it is made as’ Right to Reject. This Right to Reject and Right to Recall empowers the citizens, making them an independent watch dog in a participatory democracy.”
Raghavendra Rao, a retired Principal of Bharath Electronics Pre- University College said, “The 49-0 rule is still alien to many. Till date, I was not aware of 49-0. For the past 15 years, I have been highly disappointed by the candidates from my constituency Chamarajnagar.I didn’t want to vote for anyone, but ended up voting for one of the uncredible candidates, as I did not know about 49-O. This time, I am going for 49-O.” He also added,” It would be most welcome if they can bring in a button for 49-O in the EVMs. I am 100 per cent sure, many people like me who are disappointed with useless candidates will come and exercise 49-O.
Sujatha another voter said, “If they bring 49-O on the EVMs, it would be the best thing that would have happened to Indian citizens in a long time.”
Dr R Vishal, Additional District Election Commissioner for Bangalore said, “ Personally, I am not for 49-0. I think people should come out and express their mandate for the candidates in the fray. It is important that parties should come up with credible candidates for the voters to make a discerning choice.”
On the other hand, BEL, one of the designers and manufactures of EVMs for the Election Commission of India said that their lips are sealed on sharing any info on any possible new features on EVMs.
The demands from Activists, Civil societies and public 49-0 is:
Install a separate button for 49-O (None of the above) in the EVMs
Make 49-O as the Vote to Reject
Make the 49-O non votes, count. At present, a winner will be declared irrespective of the number of 49-O votes polled.
If a particular constituency polled 49-O more than what the candidates have got, there should be re-election in that constituency and the rejected candidates should be barred from contesting for next six years.