Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan has questioned the relevance of recently introduced NOTA voting option in a democratic system while describing it as “non-sense” and waste of time.
“What is this None-of-The-Above (NOTA) non-sense? I cannot understand. In a democratic set up what is this NOTA?” the Governor asked during the Press Club of Mumbai’s RedInk Awards 2014 event where he was the chief guest here last night. “You cannot have NOTA in a democracy. You are going and voting NOTA. Why do you want to waste your time like that? That is waste of time actually. In a democracy, it has no place,” he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was the Guest of Honour at the event, awarded cash prizes and trophies to 30 journalists — winners and runner-ups — for their best stories in 15 different categories of print and television awards. Veteran journalist Mrinal Pande was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Governor said, “As some of you know, I have myself served as a journalist for some time during my younger days. Even though I changed my profession subsequently, I have maintained friendship with journalists, some of whom are present here today.”
“In these times, you have to maintain friendship with journalists if you want to survive in public life. Merely serving the people is not enough,” he said. “The print media and news channels could not have the place they have now if there is no democracy. In a democratic country, of course, the party will change and the government will change. Need not to worry about that. If democracy is there, then changes will come again and again,” he said.
Talking about some veteran journalists, he said, “some of our politicians are lions and tigers. They, however, need a glass of water when they go and sit before these people (veteran journalists).”
In a democracy, criticism cannot be avoided, he said. Denouncing the practice of paid news, the Governor said, “some organisations say they are doing this because someone else is doing the same.”
“Maximum competition is there in political field in this country. Now I see more competition in your media also,” he said.
The Governor recalled restrictions imposed on media during the Emergency, saying he was among those who had opposed it. “During Emergency, being a Congressman I was behind bars, I opposed that. Politics is in my blood and I will again go into politics,” he said.
Talking about the elections and media’s role in the process, he said, “only recently the world has witnessed with excitement and admiration the largest ever elections in the world conducted in India involving a record 81.4 crore registered voters. It was truly a festival of democracy in all its colour and grandness.”
“I want to compliment the media for generating interest about the democracy not only among our own people, but also among the people of the world at large. Thanks to media coverage of the elections, a large number of youths and first time voters came out and cast their votes,” he said.
“I will compliment the media for enhancing the image of India as a genuine and vibrant democracy in the world. Social media also played an important role in the run up to the elections,” he added.
During the last 67 years since attaining independence, media in India has played a constructive role in the progress and development of the country. Its role in strengthening our parliamentary democracy, especially at the grassroot level, and protecting the fundamental rights of citizens cannot be over-stated, the Governor said.