Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Real deal behind 49-O

Sunday, December 07, 2008

When I typed in 49-O in my search browser I simply couldn’t locate the Indian government website, because it was overshadowed by a thousands of blog posts, forum debates, discussing the impact of 49-O on our electoral and democratic system. And they all seemed to say that it was something to do an Act passed on in 1969.

An email has being doing the rounds, even more so after the Mumbai blasts claiming that the citizens can invoke article 49-O through which they can tick "no vote" on the ballot. 

But here's the strange part: there’s nothing about elections in the 1969 Amendment Act. What the masses are referring to is in fact “Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961” document. And here’s what it says: (from the Indian Government’s Website)

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

DNA also carried a news item a couple of days ago where they gave us the low down on the whole affair. According to the article

Retired high court judge, Hosbet Suresh, says, “We have discussed negative voting a number of times during our meets, and even put forth a proposal for the same, but it’s yet to be put into action.”

This means two things:

1) You have to reveal your identity. Because once you decide not to vote you will have to sign next to your name claiming so. Now this is ok, a lot of us are agitated and wouldn’t mind revealing our identity even if it goes against the spirit of the secret ballot (but in this case it’s a special situation since you aren’t really “casting” a vote, you’re refraining to do so).  

However the second thing it also means is that:

2) There will be no re-polls.

The result will remain the same, the guy who gets the highest number of votes wins. Which also means that even if the majority of the nation feels that amongst the candidates standing none of them fits the bill and none would do justice to the nation as the next PM, theres no rule (as of now) which will ensure re-polling.  

Apparently this mail has been doing the rounds for the last 2 years urging people to “take the initiative” to “change” the nation.

The guy who drafted the email; and I’m sure his heart is in the right pace, just became the initiator of a hoax and putting this mail in the same league as that of Jessica, the cute little girl who has been suffering from leukemia AND has been 10 ten years old for the last 9 years.

People tend to follow the masses and go with the flow. So as of now, refusing to cast a vote for any of the candidates (meaning voting for none of the above) and not getting out of your bed on the day of voting means the exact same thing.

Or maybe not, maybe if a substantial percentage of the registered voters opt for "none" we can show the nation what the nation really seeks and send a message across. (thanks @Pranav for the last paragraph



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