There were mixed reactions to the Supreme Court ruling that citizens have a right to cast the negative vote by rejecting candidates contesting an election. While some parties welcomed the verdict, others were guarded.
While welcoming the judgement, Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu said his party had been fighting for electoral reforms and transparency in the voting system. He reiterated the TDP’s demand that a voter must know, with the help of a printout, if the vote cast had gone to the candidate of his/her choice.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi, however, has reacted cautiously, terming it a fancy idea in the present circumstances. Politbureau member D. Shravan said the ruling meant little unless electoral reforms were implemented.
“It will not change the scenario much till the ‘tradition’ of ‘note for vote’ was in practice,” he stated. The TRS was of the opinion that compulsory voting, greater awareness among voters and more responsible media along with the right to reject would cleanse the murky system, he stated.
Senior YSR Congress leader M.V. Mysura Reddy said providing the right to reject was not healthy for a growing democracy. It would be a cumbersome procedure and even developed countries do not have such a system.
CPI State secretary K. Narayana welcomed the decision but said it alone would not be sufficient to elect good candidates. However, it would give the voter a chance to express his/her mind instead of simply boycotting the election. Electoral reforms including proportional representation system would work better, he felt.
Terming the verdict a small issue in the larger canvas of electoral reforms, CPI (M) State secretariat member Y. Venkateswara Rao said unless money and muscle power in elections were controlled and proportional representation allowed, such steps would have little impact. The Supreme Court had dealt with the issue in a piecemeal basis, he opined.
State BJP spokesperson N. Ramchander Rao, however, welcomed it saying a negative vote was also a positive thing.
Lok Satta Party national president Jayaprakash Narayan welcomed the ruling, saying it was a small but significant step in improving politics. The reform would serve the purpose of pressurising political parties to shun undesirable and discredited candidates.
M. Padmanabha Reddy of the Forum for Good Governance said every political party was on the look-out for a winning candidate without consideration of his character and inclination to honesty, and amid this, the apex court order was a welcome step.
Infotech Chairman and Managing Director BVR Mohan Reddy was sceptical of the judgement, wondering if the electorate was ready for it yet.
“Democracy gives all such options to voters which are good. But we need to look at the implications of it, considering results like none of the candidates getting elected. Another challenge is to implement the option in EVMs for the coming polls. Can we handle it?”
Keywords: electoral reform, Supreme Court, negative vote, right to reject, TDP, TRS, BJP, CPIM, CPI, YSRC, Chandrababu Naidu, Jayaprakash Narayan, K. Narayana, Y Venkateswara Rao, Election Commission, Electronic voting machines, contesting candidates, Assembly elections, Lok Sabha polls, NOTA option