Potholes are getting filled, roads are getting concretised, flags with different symbols are flapping in the wind and slogans of promise or dissent echo through the streets. After five long years, it’s that time again, for politicians and aspirants to step up their game, and for us to celebrate and exercise the true power of democracy. The time has come to determine who will win this Game of Thrones!
With the state elections commencing on May 12, many people have decided to thumb the None Of The Above (NOTA) button, a ballot option through which they can ‘scratch’ out the unworthy candidates. They feel that this empowers them as citizens of a democratic country. Bengalureans share their reasons for choosing NOTA, ranging from students to election experts.
Starting off with some expert talk, Dr Sandeep Shastri, psephologist and election expert explains, “NOTA was brought in because many people said that while they have the right to vote, they also have the right to protest. But what happens if NOTA gets the highest votes? It does not mean that all the candidates who are contesting are going to be disqualified. NOTA votes are not electorally valid and the candidate who gains the next highest number of votes wins!”
Off late, politics has become all about what British writer DH Lawrence called ‘Money Madness’ and Vishwanath Allannavar, a law student espouses similar views. He said, “I would choose NOTA because the definition of politics has changed from ‘social service’ to ‘political opportunism’. Good people are unable to enter the arena as it is being monopolised by the rich and powerful. NOTA can bring a silent reform in the political system.”
In this whirlwind of empty promises, people hope to rid themselves of the disillusionment of the present political scenario and hence resort to the NOTA button. Zehrah H, a businesswoman shares, “Every citizen should be allowed to cast a vote but at the same time, we shouldn’t be compelled to do so. NOTA is a strong statement because even though it has no value, people are turning up to express their disapproval.” Just when we thought that our political system would have an uncanny resemblance to the Hunger Games, NOTA steps in as an empowering tool.
Shradha Ranganathan, a freelance English language training specialist opines, “When the state of affairs is such that no one is good enough to be elected as a responsible representative, NOTA comes handy. If a large number of voters who are like-minded assess the current scenario, and cast their vote for NOTA, it will be clear that we have a dearth of individuals who deserve to have the powers of authority.” In a way, NOTA acts as a ‘Patronus’ to guide voters to make an appropriate choice. Shravan Kumar, a journalism student explains, “NOTA filters the system and reveals able politicians and government servants.” But NOTA is ‘NOT A’lways used for the purpose for which it was introduced. Vidya Balakrishnan, a professor of English at Christ Junior College says, “NOTA is sometimes used by people who haven’t done their research and are politically unaware. On one hand, it’s empowering but on the other hand, it just gives us an easy way out.”
We all need to pull out a Chandler Bing and do a ‘statistical analysis’ of the current trends of exercising NOTA. NOTA needs to be used as an instrument of empowering citizens to exercise their right not to vote for the unworthy candidates rather than as a facade of knowledge behind which they hide their ignorance.
— Srishti Muralidharan and Aamina Shabeer...