Anna Hazare's team on Monday started its electoral reforms campaign in a meeting with all the three Election Commissioners, where both sides broadly agreed to give priority to 'right to reject' over 'right to recall' elected representatives.
In a two-hour meeting attended by chief election commissioner SY Quraishi and election commissioners VS Sampath and HS Brahma, Team Anna supported the EC's view of introducing the 'none of the above' option in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
"It was a highly productive meeting in which both sides heard and appreciated each other's views and agreed to take forward the electoral reforms programme," Quraishi told HT.
Hazare was represented by Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia. "Our electoral reforms agenda is not confined to right to reject and recall. We support the EC's view on providing none of the above option in EVMs for voters," Kejriwal said.
Prashant Bhushan said Team Anna is willing to discuss the complex issue of right to recall with the EC. "It certainly requires more discussions since complex constitutional issues are involved," Bhushan said.
Team Anna informed the EC that their demand for right to reject was not aimed at forcing frequent elections, but to allow voters to express their choice of not voting in favour of any candidate during Lok Sabha and state assembly elections.
Team Anna demanded that the EC exercise its power to expedite the process of providing voters with none of the above option in EVMs, before assembly elections are held in five states next year.
"It does not require any amendment in existing laws; the law ministry merely has to notify a change in rules. It was allowed till 2001 when voting used to take place through ballot papers," Kejriwal said.
He, however, stated that form 49-O, which voters used to exercise the option for none of the above, was not safe since it was easily known which voter used it.
Quraishi appealed to Team Anna to launch a positive campaign to increase the involvement of people in the electoral process.
"The demand for right to reject will only have an impact if the voting percentage is really high. What is the use of exercising this right if half of the voters do not turn up?" he said.