I have been carrying out a campaign urging people in India to exercise their franchise in favour of NOTA (none of the above – not preferring any candidate) if they are not satisfied with any of the candidates contesting in the election from their constituency. A number of people who have heard about my campaign have disagreed with my view.
In the current political situation in India, most people suspect that many of the politicians contesting in the election are corrupt, dishonest and have made politics their profession to seize power and accumulate wealth that is mostly ill- gotten. Many politicians are wealthy, with no known sources of income.
Apart from politicians, those who run lucrative educational institutions, money multiplying hospitals and business houses and even facing criminal charges also contest in elections by joining one political party or the other or even as independent candidates to make more money and gain “control” of aspects of the national economy. It is also suspected that large sums of money are paid to political parties to get nominations to contest on the party symbol.
Further, most political parties, except the BJP and Marxist Communists, have virtually become family controlled properties. Even the BJP and the Communists align themselves with family controlled and corrupt parties and politicians to form alliances before elections to win seats. It has now become too frequent for the leader of the family controlled political party to nominate son, daughter, nephew or niece or wife to contest in elections on the party symbol.
Honest people should enter politics as that is the only way to cleanse politics in India. In today’s situation, without money and muscle power, which honest people do not possess, it is not possible to win elections. Several honest and committed people have entered the electoral fray in the past and have failed miserably.
I personally contested the South Chennai parliamentary constituency in the 2009 parliamentary election and garnered a very low vote share. I decided to spend three lakh rupees for my electoral campaign. That was all I spent, largely from my pocket.
Now. the voice of the honest people is not heard at all in the election campaign and they vote silently for any one candidate, without conviction and some of them refrain from voting due to frustration with the standards of candidates.
If honest and principled persons cannot win elections, how can they make their voice heard?
Nobody knows how many people today resent the type of political climate prevailing in India. The Election Commission has provided an opportunity to citizens to vote under “NOTA” to express their dissent, so why should people not utilize this opportunity?
Let the voice of the honest people be heard who disapprove the corrupt and dishonest politicians contesting in the election to seize power for their personal and family benefits and the benefits of their henchmen (party supporters).
Those who criticise my view about NOTA argue that voting under NOTA will not serve any useful purpose and corrupt politicians will still get elected. This is true.
But let citizens and corrupt politicians know that there is silent anti- corruption revolution taking place in India and learn the extent of dissent. Not voting under NOTA by giving the excuse that people have no alternative is a defeatist view.
When sizable numbers of votes are lost to the contesting candidates by voters exercising NOTA, it will have a telling and positive impact on the long term prospect of democracy in India and will create fear in the minds of corrupt politicians, who now take the people for granted.
Those who vote for corrupt politicians knowing they are corrupt and saying that they have no alternative, have no right to complain later about the corrupt political system in the country.
(The author is a trustee with the NGO Nandini Voice for the Deprived. He can be contacted at email@example.com)