Even before the first voter presses the none of the above (NOTA) button on electronic voting machines,the newly-introduced provision has claimed its first victim in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.
Umashankar Tiwari,a government employee,was suspended after he tried to educate voters in his residential colony in Bag Mugalia about NOTA. I was surprised when I was called to a police station last week and made to sign a bond. I was told that I had committed an offence by violating the electoral code of conduct, the 45-year-old told The Indian Express.
Tiwari,a grade II employee of the Weights and Measures department,said he was not campaigning against any particular candidate or party,but merely creating awareness about an option only a few people had heard about.
An election official said Tiwari was suspended because despite being a government servant,he organised a meeting without taking permission from any competent authority. He was suspended for an offence under the Representation of Peoples Act. A newly-floated Right to Reject Group has taken up his case and written to the Election Commission. The group convener,IPS officer Vijay Wate,said instead of spreading awareness about NOTA,the government and EC were discouraging others from doing so.
Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and other election commissioners have already clarified that propagating the NOTA option did not violate any order.
EC finalises symbol for NOTA
The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday finalised the election symbol for None of the Above (NOTA) option for voters to exercise in the forthcoming Assembly polls in five states. The symbol is a rectangular box with the word NOTA written inside it.
After finalising the symbol,the EC notified the same and sent it to Chief Electoral Officers of all states. PTI