Preparations are in full swing for the upcoming Lok Sabha and various State Assembly elections. In this background of election winning strategies and voter manipulation, came the landmark Supreme Court judgement which gives the citizens of India the Right to Reject all candidates in an election.
What does this right mean, and what can be its consequences?
This provision has been welcomed by many who have long been fighting for a change in the election model to cleanse our political system and get rid of unsavory elements who find their way into our politics. There has been a long standing criticism of our electoral system, saying that people never have a decent option in voting and end up voting for “the lesser of two evils”, since many candidates have a criminal record, or an unimpressive political career propelled only by their “loyalty” to their respective parties.
The right to reject therefore comes as a logical step forward in the direction of creating a more honest class of political leaders who come out to contest elections. The Supreme Court while delivering the judgement said, “Negative voting would lead to systemic changes in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates.” People, who would otherwise be indifferent towards elections and voting due to their unhappiness over corrupt and unsuitable candidates, will now have a chance to make their opinion count through this provision where the rejection of all candidates by a sufficient number of voters would result in their disqualification from contesting elections.
Thus, this verdict has ushered in a fresh path for citizens to become active in public life and choose truly deserving and qualified candidates as their representatives.
But an important question to be addressed is what happens if the percentage of votes for ‘None of the above’ option is more than the votes polled by candidates? This judgement is silent on this vital question. It is natural that, the law will have to be amended. Since only the Parliament has the right to make amendments in the People’s Representation Act, it is to be seen how promptly these changes, which could possibly harm candidates of the ruling and opposition parties will be brought in, if at all.
About the Author
A patriot and hopeful change maker, Riddhima is a believer in the power of women to change the world. She has studied Political Science with special reference to the feminist movement, feminist theory and the position of women in Indian politics. She is currently pursuing Law in the first year and hopes to specialize in women related laws and work with an organization in a related field. She enjoys public speaking and is not afraid to speak her mind. Sharma is a quick learner and is keen to gain new experiences especially in the areas of public policy, politics and strategy.