Choosing NOTA ‘worthless’, says the former President

The former President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said here on Tuesday that “great people should go to politics then great politics will come”.

Addressing a large gathering of college students at an awareness programme on voting organised by the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) Committee of Dakshina Kannada, he said that choosing the NOTA (none of the above) option was “worthless” and advised students who were voters to select able candidates in the coming elections to the Lok Sabha.

The 82-year-old Kalam, popularly called the “missile man of India”, suggested students to select candidates of “integrity, righteousness, proven performance and free from corruption”.

He asked student voters not only to vote but for each to encourage at least 10 others to vote in the Lok Sabha elections.

Recalling an incident when he was the President of India, Mr. Kalam said that when he went to vote in an election, the electronic voting machine (EVM) developed a snag and he could not vote immediately.

Hence he returned to the Rasthrapati Bhawan and went to the polling station after some time to exercise his franchise.

Direct questions

The former President refused to take the “screened questions” (collected from students in writing in advance and selected from among them) of students from the SVEEP committee. Instead, he answered extempore questions.

To a question on why voting had not been made compulsory in the country, Mr. Kalam said that in a free democracy, firstly one should make up his or her mind and vote voluntarily.

“We will see the subject of compulsory voting later,” he said.

‘Study the candidate’

Asked what to do if all candidates in a constituency were found undeserving, he said he did not agree with it. One must analyse and study the integrity of persons in the fray and then vote carefully by selecting a candidate.

Mr. Kalam released audio compact discs (CDs) brought out by the committee to create voting awareness. It contains songs in different languages. The Returning Officer for Dakshina Kannada A.B. Ibrahim and Dakshina Kannada SVEEP committee president Thulasi Maddineni spoke.

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