Is the time ripe for giving the people the constitutional right to reject candidates standing for elections and recall those already elected? After the unprecedented public outrage against the politicians following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the proponents of this move at least have a strong case.
“This is the right time to convert public anger into a movement. People want the right to reject candidates or political parties,” said IIT alumnus and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal, who was one of the spearheads of the Right to Information movement, which finally led to a law on the subject.
The EC did try twice — in 2001 and, again, in 2004. But, expectedly, perhaps, the government slept over the proposal. The government needs to make a simple amendment in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to include a “none of the above” column at the end of the ballot paper.
“People have been petitioning us. But we cannot do anything more than send the proposal and, thereafter, reminders to the government,” an Election Commission official said.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a network of 1,200 partner organisations all over the country, plans to channel the public anger against politicians into a popular movement to press for the right to reject or recall candidates. It plans to write to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members soliciting their support.
ADR was founded by a group of professors from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and National Institute of Design and some IIM alumni in 1999. At present, it is running its twin programmes — electoral reforms and political processes reforms — and monitors the election process in the country with the help of its network partners.
The founder member of ADR, Trilochan Shastry, Professor & Dean of Academics, IIM Bangalore, said: “Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has publicly supported the demand.”
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