For executing NVD Pledge 2011 Voter’s belief in Multiparty Democratic System has to be strengthened
Replacing NOTA with NTC can add to strengthening faith of the Voter Citizen in democratic system
Today 25th January is the 12th National Voters’ Day. The National Voters’ Day (NVD) was first celebrated by the Pratibha Devi Patil, the then President of India on 25th January 2011 (63rd Foundation day of Election Commission of India) with the objective of increasing voter enrolment focusing specially on new voters. On the 1st National Voters’ Day the newly enrolled electors were given a badge with the slogan “Proud to be a Voter-Ready to Vote” and were administered a pledge that goes: “We, the citizens of India, having abiding faith in democracy, hereby pledge to uphold the democratic traditions of our country and the dignity of free, fair and peaceful elections, and to vote in every election fearlessly and without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language or any inducement”. So in a way it was particularly to give a sense of citizenship, empowerment, pride, inspired initiative for exercising the franchise when the occasion comes.
So, before we take on further let us refresh our information that this day is being celebrated with the objective of making the electoral process more effective, making democratic governments to be installed in India more concerning and above all improving the awareness & sensitivity in generations (atleast in new generations entering the eligible voter family every year this day) and for which every year a theme is declared for taking process ahead like Theme 2021: “Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed” Theme 2020: “Electoral Literacy for Stronger Democracy” Theme 2019:”No Voter to be left behind” Theme 2018: “Assessable Elections” Theme2017: “Empowering Young and Future Voters” Theme 2016: “Inclusive and qualitative participation” National Voters’ Day Theme 2015: “Easy Registration, Easy Correction” Theme-2014 – Ethical Voting.Theme 2013– Inclusion.
Surely something has been done for increasing voter registration and participation but for upholding the democratic traditions & voting without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language or any inducement what has been the achievement needs more serious introspection while celebrating 12th National Voters’ Day particularly remembering Theme 2021″Making Our Voters Vigilant” and Theme2014″Ethical Voting”
So this 12th NVD which is being observed a day before 72nd Republic day there is need for making the voter citizen introspect how far the franchise is being cast in terms of the Pledge taken on 1st NVD and also for making the ‘Vote Seekers” to introspect how far they have been able to provide to the Voter Citizen environment worth voting in election fearlessly and without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language, any emotional inducement or material allurements ?.
Earlier the voter eligibility age was 21 years which has now been lowered to 18 years, the age where majority in India is just completing school education, has a clear/ innocent/easily impressionable/ sensitive/ imaginative and ambitious mindset ( even in socio-political environment that we have in 2022) ‘hoping’ that elders must have prepared a level playing field for him/ her to step in. How far the political environment of the day is truthfully ready to receive one with ‘said’ hopefully hoping ‘new voter’ has to be kept in focus while setting the Theme- 2022 NVD instead of drafting the same simply for making more numbers to come to booths (more under pressures of ‘personal’ needs) but more valuing the duty of citizen towards the needs of the country since on the voting day one writes the fate of his/ her country for next five years for which one’s belief in the democratic system must be firm and in this regard the ground status of the day is not encouraging.
No doubt focus has to be on creating awareness for participation by more old and ‘young’ voter for exercising the franchise but more is the need for strengthening the belief of voter citizen in quality/style of democracy that our elders had conceived which was more based on ethics than the ‘political’ ‘morals’ of the day that appear only focusing more on how to carry a voter to one’s symbol.
It is also the political culture of the day which is responsible for lesser participation/ lesser interest the common man ( particularly the new generation ) shows in the elections / debates in the legislature where among other things the elected legislators & politicians frequently are seen shifting loyalties.
In the multiparty democratic system that India has this day (as enshrined in constitution of India) it is believed that those who would be hoping to hold and those who hold the reins must be focussing their energies on the subjects & projects irrespective of particular sect/caste/religion/region / minority/ majority/ economic allurements and in case they divert from the ethics then there would be exiting simultaneously social / community institutions who would remind those in power / those seeking vote for power of the basics of a democratic system of governance. But looking at the environment that we are presently living in , such median / middling institutions are nearly missing and where ever some of the ‘type’ exist they are weak enough to correct the faulting politicians or cultivate awareness in the voter citizens about the rights and value of the indirect ‘legislative’ authority one carries. So need is also to strengthen the social / community institutions worth motivating for / forcing for behaving truthfully to ethics of democratic principles enshrined in the constitution of India so as strengthen the belief of the citizen in the voting process that is initiated every 5 years.
Need is more for making the people sensitive about the value of vote and the affect of their vote on the future of the nation. So going by the political culture we are living in the Theme NVD 2022 needs to be pointedly focussing worth making the voter citizen more aware of his/ her responsibilities as voter as well as for creating conditions worth making the political leadership holding the reins of governance / hoping to hold reins of governance to nourish a conduct where in the voter citizen starts believing in the responsibility one has towards the nation and the power one’s vote has on ground to make the elected representatives tread the path towards and in legislature truthfully ( ethically).There is utmost need for even some more intimate administrative and constitutional reforms for which pressures need be build on those who seek vote since only those in legislature and executive (cabinets) will have to do such reforms. No doubt surely there are many in political arena who have intentions and desires for holding to the truthful democratic principles but the majority culture makes them too ineffective.
In our country elections for all State Legislatures and Lok Sabha are not held at the same time (every year there may be elections to 3 to 4 state legislatures or Lok Sabha) compelling senior political leadership to remain involved more in party politics / political gamesmanship/ voter luring than working on ground in truthful & rational manner. Hence those in power instead of leaving the assessment of their work to common man are often found Self-Auditing their projects/schemes’ and spending time, money & energies for advertising work done only in terms of ‘financial inputs’/ numbers.
So, for strengthening the belief of a voter citizen in the democratic system (i) there should be ban on sanctioning of any type of new freebees for the poor & BPL / new monetary benefits for the government servants/ pensioners by the government 9 months before elections to a legislature / Lok Sabha (ii) ban on laying of foundation stones of new state projects / midway inauguration of projects not likely to be completed atleast 6 months before the elections are due (iii) no new high value projects should announced for a State by the Union Government 6 months before elections (iv) no community / region related specials should be announced 6 months before elections are due (v) no IAS/IPS/IRS who resigns from government service should be allowed to contest elections on a political party before one year after retirement (vi) anti defection law need be amended like (a)MP/MLA elected on a party ticket if resigns should stay independent (b) any Legislator/ MP who leaves his party after announcement of elections should be allowed to contest as only independent (c) independent MP/MLA may support a party but should be allowed to join a party whose candidate had contested against him/ her as second highest (d) party whip system should be only to the extent of asking members to remain present during voting and whipping an opinion (vii) candidate’s brief past history on past party associations, criminal record should be printed on posters (viii) NOTA ( None Of The Above ) should be replaced by NTC ( Not This Candidate) there by introducing the system of negative voting which would be a more better use of voting right where under a voter can still contribute by reducing one vote of a candidate who one may think to be worst of all . NOTA is wastage of vote but NTC would do some service(ix) and like.
(Daya Sagar is
Sr Journalist & analyst
of J&K affairs [email protected]).