BENGALURU: Is NOTA the most popular choice this election?
It is that time of the year (although once in five years) when we are made to feel important and relevant. But do the millennials feel the same about elections? Are they ready to question and take on anti-incumbency, or have they become apathetic to the political system?
Would tech-savvy, digital immigrant citizens out to cast their votes for the first or a second time, be excited about their right to exercise their franchise? Would they decisively choose a candidate? Do they have the time or inclination to make an effort to research a candidate and make a wise decision, or would inefficient candidatures deter them from voting?
Or would they conveniently choose the NOTA (None Of The Above) option and stay safe?
NOTA has been offered to voters since 2013. The rationale behind it is that when you have the right to vote, you also have the right to reject candidates — all of them on the EVMs.
NOTA has been gaining popularity among digital communities. There are thousands of followers to specific NOTA groups. It has emerged as a movement to build pressure on politicians and parties to be more accountable, transparent and efficient.
Close to 60 lakh voters (1.1%) had chosen NOTA in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. The percentage is sure to increase in the coming years, thanks to our bellicose politicians who are busy mudslinging.
Many first-time voters have made up their mind to opt for NOTA. Media student Sachin, a second-time voter, says, ‘‘It’s our only recourse because we have no candidate who campaigns on ‘real’ issues. Everyone has his ideological agenda. So NOTA is the only way we can ensure that candidates know they cannot take the public for granted.” He says he went with NOTA when he voted for the first time.
A final year literature student, Aishwarya’s rhetoric, too, supports NOTA: “Why vote for anyone when you know none among them is worth being your elected representative?’”
However, NOTA is also looked upon as escapism. Considering that it has no immediate impact on the election result, the seriousness of NOTA is questionable. Preetesh, placement head at a private college in the city, and who has had quite a few voting experiences, opines that it doesn’t make any sense in India.
“My understanding is that, in some countries, if NOTA votes are more than votes of winning candidate, then the election is cancelled and held again. Here in India, what does one achieve?
Nothing but psychological satisfaction. Practically, it is same as voting for a random independent candidate. There has to be some implication, for a NOTA vote to be meaningful,” he says.Bhavna, a corporate professional, says “Though it seems like the best option, I don’t see how it can improve candidature. Instead of wasting my vote, I would rather choose the best out of the worst with some hope still.”