Delhi State Elections


 NOTA or ‘None of the above’ is a ballot option that a voter can opt for if he or she is dissatisfied with the contesting candidates. The role of NOTA in India’s context can hold considerable importance if implemented constructively. 


None of the above, or NOTA for short, is a ballot option that allows the voter to not vote for any candidate, indicating disapproval of the contesting candidates. In India, NOTA was first introduced in 2013 to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in a State Assembly Election. India was the 14th country to introduce the ballot option of NOTA.  

Greece and Spain use the term ‘white vote’ to refer to NOTA, and in Argentina, it is called a blank vote. There are some countries that do not offer the voters the option of NOTA, but they choose to develop creative methods. For instance, Serbia did not have the option of NOTA, but a NOTA party was formed which won a seat with 22,000 votes. 

The option was introduced to encourage a high voter turnout. NOTA carries no arithmetic value and is considered a neutral or invalid vote which does not change the outcome of the election process. Former Chief Election Commissioner, OP Rawat, clearly stated that our country lacked the legal framework to implement NOTA and it would take about 100 years for NOTA to result in something meaningful.  Aayushi Sharma, a student of Jesus and Mary College said, “NOTA may seem like a good option to a few, but our country does not provide any concrete solution if NOTA gets the highest share of votes.” 

According to the existing rules, if in a constituency, NOTA gets the highest number of votes, the candidate with the next highest share becomes the winner. However, in November 2018, Maharashtra State Election Commissioner had passed an order claiming re-election if NOTA got the highest share of votes.  

This also brings into question how the electoral system followed in India can render NOTA votes as redundant or ineffective as a method of expressing disapproval at all the contesting candidates. India follows the First-past-the-post voting system, which, in the simplest of terms dictates that the candidate who gets the highest number of votes in a constituency wins the election. This applies if the candidate has won by a landslide in their constituency or even if they win by a hairbreadth, they will still get the seat.

Before getting into how this system theoretically renders NOTA ineffective, a look needs to be taken at how it affects the minorities of our country in getting adequate representation in Parliament. As this system does not give any importance to the total votes of the party but on how individual candidates have performed in their respective constituencies.  For example, in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 37.36% of the vote but their seat share was much more at 303 while Indian National Congress (INC) with around 19% of the votes only had 52 seats. Similarly, Trinamool Congress with 4.07% of the votes had 22 seats while Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had more seats (24) with just 2.26% of the total votes.

This system ensures that minorities in India which are widely spread throughout the country do not get adequate representation within the electoral system. It also renders NOTA vote as ineffective in all cases, as these votes are reduced to a mere symbolic representation of disapproval of all candidates and does not carry any real change. The idea suggested by Maharashtra State Election Commissioner while a step in the right direction will only be put in play in a very rare scenario where NOTA gets the highest share of votes. The Indian electoral system needs major overhauls to bring NOTA votes into play. To provide adequate minority representation and to preserve India as the world’s largest democracy.


Feature Image Credits: DNA India

Suhani Malhotra

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Prabhanu Kumar Das

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The year began with the Indian waking up from the shock of a young woman brutally raped and murdered in the heart of the country- The Capital City of Delhi. Delhi was infamously tagged as the Rape Capital of the world, cementing India’s position among the ranks of other women-unfriendly countries. But for the first time in a long time, the tortured Indian wasn’t ready to lie low. People had had enough and evidence was soon to follow. The sheer number of people who took to the streets in protest was not just heartening, it was alarming. Gandhiji’s silent fight had turned into Bhagat’s Singh’s uprising. The crusade ended with capital punishment for the four who unflinchingly did not just succumb to their baser instincts but also showed the world that perhaps humans are not as far away from barbarians as we thought. The struggle is far from over, but off to a great start.


On the international front, the Indian was once again the center of attention- but for a different reason. Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, the story of a young Indian boy lost at sea and his struggle to survive, showed the world that India was a more than Danny Boyle’s version of shanty homes and slums.

But what took years of work to build was destroyed in a matter of minutes- Section 377 of The Indian Penal Code declared homosexuality punishable under law. So now the Indian wasn’t just unsafe on the streets, he was also being watched in his bedroom.

The socially shamed Indian was about to be hit on his pocket too. The Indian rupee’s fall against the dollar did not only send the finance department of every company in limbo but also made every Indian count pennies. On the domestic front too, inflation continues to plague the Indian who is now stretching his wallet even for necessities.

The Indian also witnessed one of the most horrific natural calamities in Uttrakhand with hundreds losing their lives (and livelihoods) and even more suffering irreparable loss. But instead of being swept aside as a victim, the Indian emerged a Hero. Right from the soldier to the civilian, the Indian did what no one expected of him- placed others before him. Hundreds of local inhabitants came to the rescue of the grief stricken and several of them saved others from perishing, some losing their own lives in the process.

Beaten down on the social and financial aspects, the trying times weren’t quite so over. The Indian is still grappling with the idea of secularism, while communities continue to clash on religious grounds. The Muzzafarnagar riots shook Uttar Pradesh and the entire country to its core. Several people lost their lives in the name of communal loyalty. Divided by religion, united by religion.
The Indian has cherished cricket as a religion that transcends boundaries. The year saw India’s greatest cricket legend

– Sachin Tendulkar bid adieu to the sport for good. The entire nation came together to celebrate the life of one of the most celebrated Indians.


Another innate power that the Indian summoned in 2013 was that of unity.

Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in Delhi State Elections did not just testify that even today, the Indian is the master of his own destiny but also insinuated that ruling India is no one’s birth right- India was freed in 1947 and the Indian intends to keep it that way.
This year, especially these past few months, have proved that the Indian is no more a passive old man sitting in the corner, observing as things happen to him. He’s confident, alert, compassionate and angry.

Image courtesy: espncricinfo.com, Pallab Deb and Gurman Bhatia for DU Beat