Members in the Lok Sabha on Friday expressed diverse views on a private member’s bill seeking compulsory voting, with one from the BJP saying such a move would not be in the interest of democracy.
The Lower House was discussing ‘Compulsory Voting Bill, 2019’ that was moved by BJP’s Janardan Singh Sigriwal in July.
“I am not in favour of compulsory voting,” BJP’s Satyapal Singh said. Singh, a former Mumbai Police Commissioner, also said that having compulsory voting requirement would not be in the interest of the democracy.
Participating in the discussion, BJP member Gopal Shetty supported the idea, and emphasised that voting percentage should increase in the country. He also said values should be assigned to votes for criminals contesting elections, depending on the cases pending against them.
Ravi Kishan (BJP) said voting should be made compulsory as it was necessary for forming a strong government like the one which India is seeing today under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
N K Premachandra (RSP) expressed apprehension on the proposal saying that right not to vote was also a democratic right of the citizens. The better way, he added, should be to encourage and motivate people to participate in the electoral process in large number.
Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy demanded that the government should do away with electronic voting machines. He also said that voting cannot be made compulsory in a country like India as coercion has no place in the democratic process.
Bhagirath Chaudhary (BJP) said intellectuals should come out of homes and vote as it would strengthen the democratic process. His party colleague Pushpendra Chandel demanded that the government should do away with NOTA as it was not helping the democratic process.
Another BJP member, PP Chaudhary said that it was not possible to enforce compulsory voting, but voters can be incentivised for walking up to the ballot. He pointed out that there are countries which take note of voters not casting their votes, which is mentioned on their driving card in terms of marks. If they exceed a particular number, their driving licence is either cancelled or not renewed. This, Chaudhary said, can be explored and implemented through Aadhaar card which is used for several schemes.
He added that the voting enthusiasm is highest in civic body polls and lowest in parliamentary polls. He cited more personal by candidates at the local bodies.