The Third Front's decision to abstain from voting in the presidential election might be bitter news for the BJP-led NDA, but the Election Commission does not see any illegality in the move.
"Nobody can compel any voter. Not to vote is an inherent right and forcing somebody to vote is anti-democratic and against his will," an Election Commission source said when asked to comment on the BJP's plans to seek the panel's intervention to ensure that no MP or MLA is stopped from voting.
The UNPA, popularly known as the Third Front, on Saturday formally announced that it would abstain from voting in the July 19 presidential election, virtually grounding Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's chances for the top post.
The Election Commission has also issued a series of dos and don'ts for electors in the presidential poll. The electors could indicate their first preference by placing the figure "1" against any one candidate and their other preferences were optional. The members may or may not indicate the second and subsequent preferences, the Commission said in its guidelines.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi had earlier said that the UPA would ask its members to give only one vote in favour of Pratibha Patil.
The guidelines also reminded the electors not to put a 'tick' or a 'cross' mark to indicate their preferences. Such ballot papers would be rejected, it said.
The commission also asked members not to write their names or any words and not to put their signature or initials on ballot paper. "Also, do not put your thumb impression. These will make your ballot paper invalid," it said.