Every 5 years we have elections. The month long election season has shrunk our participation in democracy down to one month.
Somehow everything seems to be about selecting representative from amongst those who stand for elections. Even if none of the candidates represent us. Even when none of the candidates understand the purpose of representation. Even if none of the candidates recognize why they must represent us.
Unfortunately, most of the candidates are chosen by partisan interests. Partisan interests are those who are a supporter of a party, cause or a person. Partisan interests finance the candidates and are, therefore, the ones who decide who the candidates shall be. Those who financed the candidates do so in order to further their private and partisan interests. Political parties are usually the largest partisan interests.
Every election we line up thinking that we make a choice of those who represent us. Unfortunately, all we’re doing is simply endorsing partisan and private interests who have financed the candidates.
Over time, we have lost the ability to pick our representative.
Those who win elections end up representing those who financed them and put them up as candidates. It is no surprise therefore that those who are meant to represent us rarely if at all come back to us to understand our views and seek to represent as in government.
Partisan and private interests do not understand the purpose of representation of people. People need to be represented so that partisan and private interests may not cause indignity, injustice or erode the liberty of the people. Partisan and private interests will talk about schemes, projects and economic growth. Partisan interests actively promote schemes and projects that benefit them and those that finance them.
Partisan interests do not care if their schemes, projects and economic agendas erode or even destroy the dignity, liberty and justice of the people.
Partisan and private interests fail to recognize that by being prejudiced in favor of their causes makes them vulnerable to ignoring the dignity, liberty and justice. They do not recognize that they must represent us, particularly because doing so ensures they not only protect everyone’s dignity, liberty and justice including their own. They must represent us so that we protect the future of every child born now, not merely that of partisan interests.
No wonder then, that who we vote for has ceased to make a difference. It has ceases to protect our dignity, liberty or justice. It has ceased to protect our short now, or the lifetime of the children born today. It has ceased to protect the representation of people. It has ceased to protect the purpose of voting.
No wonder then our governments have slowly but surely stopped thinking about the short now, or the lifetime of a child born today, and only focused on the short term.
It is no wonder that those meant to be our representatives talk about expediency and not about the right things to do. Gradually our government has eroded its purpose of protecting the future of a child born today and turned itself to benefit partisan and private interests.
It is not unsurprising, then, that the government had opposed the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties that had filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court asking for an option to reject all candidates.
In September 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled that voters should have the right to reject all the candidates and ordered the Election Commission of India to include a None of the Above (NOTA) button on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to allow voters to reject partisan candidates.
NOTA is a rejection of the partisan interests. It is a rejection of the short term.
More importantly, it is underlining the purpose of representation to protect our dignity, liberty and justice. It is emphasizing the importance of the short now, the lifetime of children born today.
As more and more exercise NOTA, we will erode the power of the partisan interests. If NOTA votes become the single largest group, it may not only force re-elections, it may alter the persons who become candidates.
NOTA becomes a statement to reject electoral corruption. It is a means to reassert the power of the people.
So, when we are faced with candidates who are partisan, we do have a choice. We can vote for NOTA.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph