Place: Polling centre at RLB School, Indira Nagar. Time: 8 am
Voter: I don't want to vote for any candidate. Please register my name in 'Register 17A'
Officer: Then why have you come here? You better cast your vote!
Voter: Who are you to tell me how I should use my vote.
(Another officer then intervenes and registers the name in 17 A to control the situation)
Citizens were aware about their 'right to reject' all contesting candidates, but the election officials weren't ready to entertain such a demand. Reason: It would increase paper work for them.
A large number of voters, who wanted to exercise their franchise under Rule 49 O to reject all candidates, were asked to use the EVM. Officials not only objected to their decision but also insisted they cast their vote for one or the other candidate.
"Booth officials told me to avoid controversies like right to reject. But I insisted on exercising my franchise under Rule 49 0 as I really thought that none of the candidates in Lucknow North constituency were worth it," said Swati Sharma, a teacher.
Another such voter JP Singh, of Lucknow East constituency, opined, "Candidates and parties need to be told that if voters have the right to select them, they also have the right to reject them."
The confusion was such that even polling officials were not clear about form 17-A. They kept on asking voters to cast vote but could not explain how to use their right to reject.
PN Kalki, state president of the Akhil Bharatiya Matadhikari Sangh (ABMS) and his wife Gayatri Tiwari - voters of Bakshi Ka Talab - also used their right under Rule 49-0 and rejected all the candidates contesting there. Kalpi said, "Politics now has no issues of the masses so voters in my family wanted to dissuade such politics by rejecting all candidates." At least 30 members of ABMS rejected all the candidates.s. Voters, however, had to struggle a lot for rejecting the candidates. When social activist Bobby Ramakant went to the polling booth, he was told that form 17-A was not available, hence he needed to vote for some body. "I couldn't use form 17A under Section 49 (O) of Conduct of Election Rules, 1969, to reject all election candidates in Lucknow East as the officer said form 17A hadn't been provided. More shocking was the way I was misled by the team present there," he said.