By Bhanvi Satija:
‘None of the above’ is often a convenient choice for most of us while we fill surveys or feedback forms. In 2013, the Supreme Court decided to give this option to the country in another way: NOTA was introduced in the elections of five legislative assemblies, including that of Delhi. In an even more recent development, the University Grants Commission, yesterday issued a circular to Delhi University to introduce NOTA in the upcoming DUSU elections. According to reports, this move came after two students from the law faculty – Mohit Kumar Gupta and Tarun Narang – demanded that the option for NOTA be given to students in the upcoming DUSU elections.
Why the demand for NOTA?
Ever since the election parade started this year, the law faculty students have been in the lead to demand NOTA. “DU on its own never thought of introducing the NOTA option in its EVMs. It is, however, our fundamental right and in the form of Right to Secrecy, under Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 21 of the Constitution, and hence we should have it” said Tarun Narang, a law fac student. Other students seem to be in support too, “NOTA should be introduced in DUSU polls. What if I don’t want to vote for any of the candidates for certain reasons, but still want to cast my vote?” said Mithlesh, a student from Ramjas College.
This increase in demand for the NOTA option is in the hope of widening the scope of a student’s right to expression. With the increase in the use of muscle and money power during elections, NOTA is a step to revive the student community’s faith in student politics. Last year, Jawaharlal Nehru University introduced this option to its students and the move was welcomed, as many thought that this would be a good option for students who did not wish to be politically inclined. NOTA is also expected to bring back the focus to real issues, from the fight for power, in the DUSU elections.
The student community at DU, however, seem to be divided on the issue. “Introducing NOTA is a retrogressive step towards making the whole set up apolitical, while politicization is an essential and indispensable part of democracy. If we want to clean the whole environment and culture of varsity and student body elections then measures ensuring non-influx of muscle and money power in DUSU polls should be introduced. Introducing NOTA is not a solution to that,” said Prashant Mukherjee, state committee member of Students’ Federation of India (SFI). On a larger scale too, NOTA hasn’t been particularly successful in its motive. This is mainly due to the ambiguity that remains over the consequences and effects of NOTA. Whether or not NOTA will be a success or a failure for student elections remains an unresolved question.
For now, there are questions with respect to introducing NOTA this year which need to be addressed immediately. The student community at DU and JNU votes on September 11. With only a day left for preparations, it seems almost impossible to introduce NOTA this year. “The EVMs have already been prepared and dispatched. So this year it will not be possible. Putting on the NOTA option will require time, and this year we have hardly any time left”, said Professor D.S Rawat, Chief Election Officer, DUSU elections.
This is a part of YKA’s focused coverage of the 2015 student union elections in Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. To know more about it, click here.
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