Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to make voting for local bodies compulsory has found a staunch critic within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), of which his party, the BJP, is the dominant partner.
NDA acting convener and Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav has called the idea of compulsory voting anti-poor.
“I am against the compulsory voting idea because it will create problems for migrant labourers and other poor people living away from home within their state or outside,” Yadav said on Monday.
“A poor man will have to spend up to even Rs. 1,000-2,000 to travel to-and-fro with wife and children, to vote compulsorily, failing which he will be punished.”
Even if the government foots the travel bills, it will be a huge wastage of public money, Yadav reasoned.
“Make it compulsory for millionaires, who do not like to vote, if you so wish, but don’t punish the poor,” he said.
This is Yadav’s interesting pro-poor twist to a debate on whether compulsory voting is a welcome step or a violation of the citizen’s freedom to decide whether to vote or not. However, this might not go down well with its ally BJP.
Yadav also said that the Telangana controversy could not be resolved just by an all-party meet.
“The National Integration Council should be called upon to take a view on the matter once peace has returned,” he said.
Yadav congratulated the Bihar government, run by his own party, for posting the second highest growth (of 11.03 percent) in India, which is just next to Gujarat.