The choice of None Of The Above (NOTA) could not have come at a better time before the Indian voter.
Not that this was not available earlier but people were not aware of it. In fact, I was one of the few conscientious voters to use this option in the last General Election in 2009 when I was posted in Dehradun. All one had to do was go to the polling booth get the voting finger inked and tell the presiding officer at the polling booth that you did not want to vote for any party. No questions asked.
This is quite different from not going to the polling booth at all which is another name for indifference. But chances were that some political outfit would send fake voters to get the votes cast in their favour when they came to know that you had not cast your vote. This time this choice is available among the buttons that you are supposed to press at the time of voting thanks to voter awareness. It is the same awareness that prompts me to use and promote the NOTA option in the forthcoming elections in 2014.
Let me be very categorical. I am not one of those who generalize that politics is a cess pool, that all politicians are corrupt, that politicians have ruined the country. On the contrary, I am firmly of the opinion that India is in safe hands because whether we are led by Indira Gandhi, V P Singh, Deve Gowda, Chandrashekhar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh we are much better off than all our neighbours.
Use NOTA button if there is no right candidate: Hazare http://t.co/3NZf9k5zjO
— Times of India (@timesofindia) March 17, 2014
But I am tempted to use my NOTA option this time around because I am confused. There may be any number of political parties but every party must have an ideology, a programme, and some clear choices that differentiate it from the others.But what do we see today? There is only one ‘ism’ that is relevant and that is opportunism. Even leaders who have spent a lifetime sharing an ideology are party hopping just because they are not getting tickets from the constituencies of their choice. For them party hopping has become another name for blackmail. I am not even talking of the new entrants into politics because they are non-entities as far as I am concerned.
When I was in Delhi University student leaders who changed parties at the last-minute were rejected by students at the hustings. Can we hope to see the same kind of movement today? I have my doubts, because some of those who are changing three parties in three days are ranked very high in public opinion.
It is to these people who I want to send a message by asking the people to opt for NOTA option. We, the Indian voters have to stand up to tell this new breed of chameleons that they cannot under-estimate our intelligence. We have to defend our right to exercise our right to vote which the country has earned after a fierce struggle on the streets against a brutal British police, not by lighting candles at Jantar Mantar or Gateway of India.
By Amitabh Srivastava