The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to be used in the upcoming civic polls in the state will not contain the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) button. The reason: Elections to local bodies doesn’t permit the use of NOTA facility.
State Election Commissioner Susanta Ranjan Upadhyaya on Monday said: “The law has to be amended first before we can implement NOTA option in municipal elections.”
Members of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) alleged it was a violation of human rights. “How can a right be partially applicable? If it is allowed in Assembly elections, the State Election Commission (SEC) should also have made sure that it was available here. We will submit a deputation to it on April 16,” said Bapi Sen, APDR assistant secretary.
Political leaders too blamed the poll panel. State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said: “This is an infringement on the democratic right of the common people. The SEC is playing second fiddle to the current political system. I strongly object to it and will write to the SEC tomorrow demanding NOTA option.”
Trinamool leader and minister Partha Chatterjee added: “I don’t know why can’t the state election commissioner ask for NOTA-enabled EVMs? If there is a confusion about the rules, why can’t the SEC speak to the Election Commission of India for a clarification. There was no rule about getting Central forces too for civic polls but he (Upadhyaya) has actively worked towards it.” He, however, claimed that the absence of NOTA will not make much difference because not many voters were aware of the option.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha said the Election Commissioner must ensure that people get the right to choose NOTA in case they are not happy with any of the candidates.
Senior CPM leader Rabin Deb, however, had a different take on the matter. “NOTA is not applicable for municipal elections… We want the people to come out and vote for the candidate of their choice,” he said.