Modi hails SC on negative vote

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi today welcomed the Supreme Court order giving voters the right to cast a negative vote rejecting all candidates and pitched for compulsory voting, saying it would make democracy “vibrant and participative”.

“I wholeheartedly welcome this. I am sure it will have a long lasting impact on our polity and will be a great step in the direction of further electoral reforms that can make our democracy even more vibrant and participative,” Modi said in his blog.

“Compulsory voting too, has several advantages that can make our democracy stronger. It will even mitigate fears about elections becoming display of money power,” BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, said.

Modi said by bringing in compulsory voting, mindless and extravagant expenditure on elections would be checked as the voters will anyway have to come to the polling booth and exercise their franchise.

The BJP leader said electoral reforms like the right to reject or compulsory voting would not violate the right to freedom of expression but “add completeness in the opportunity for expression”.

“Right now, you are getting only half the right of expression- that of selecting the person or party. In future, you will get a complete right of expression- of even rejecting the candidates,” Modi said.

“It is not that something is being snatched from the voters. If compulsory schooling for children is advocated, can you say that we are denying a child his or her childhood?” Modi asked.

“We introduced a bill on compulsory voting, which even included the Right to Reject but Congress Party opposed it tooth and nail. The bill was passed twice (in the state assembly), in 2008 and in 2009, but it was then withheld by the Honorable Governor (Kamla Beniwal),” Modi said. Modi also invoked Mahatma Gandhi to push for compulsory voting.

“Once someone asked Mahatma Gandhi what are the fundamental rights of the people? Gandhi ji said that it is not about the fundamental right but the fundamental duties of the people. When we do our duties properly, the rights will be automatically safeguarded and if we do our duties properly, our democracy will be safeguarded,” Modi said quoting Gandhi.

Speaking about the Supreme Court verdict delivered today Modi said, “For a very long time I have called for a provision for a right to reject in elections. Without it, there was something lacking in the system. Right now, if there are ten candidates contesting from a seat, we are compelling the voters to choose from those ten candidates. This judgment will empower the voters to express their anger and reject all of them”.

“Many friends in some political parties are skeptical of having a Right to Reject in forthcoming elections. However, I am not surprised,” he said.

Modi in his blog also requested young voters to get themselves registered.

“While it is good to talk about Right to Reject and Compulsory Voting, this debate will be meaningless if you are not registered as voters! I am told that a large number of youngsters who are 18 to 24 years old are not registered as voters. There is nothing more unfortunate than this.” he said. -PTI

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