Compulsory voting requires consensus but awareness should be raised: Naidu

Compulsory voting cannot be made mandatory unless a consensus evolves, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu today said as he agreed with Supreme Court’s observation that a person has “no right” to blame the government if he has not cast his vote.
The Minister said casting voting is not only a right but also a responsibility of the citizens and they are “duty-bound” to exercise the franchise.
“You don’t want anybody you can vote against him. There is also the facility of NOTA,” the Minister said.
Naidu said compulsory voting was just a suggestion and it will take time to evolve as in a democracy people have different views.
He also said making voting mandatory requires a constitutional amendment but awareness should be created about it.
“Compulsory voting is one such suggestion. We are a democratic country. We have different views. You need to amend the constitution and also approval of Parliament for this. It will take some time. Awareness should be created. Election commission has taken lot of steps in this direction,” he said.
The Minister also lamented that at times people’s voting choice gets influenced by “cash or caste” whereas the criteria should be “calibre, capacity, conduct and character” of the candidate.
Supreme Court had recently observed that if one does not vote, that person has “no right” to question or blame the government. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had observed, “One can’t blame the government for everything. If a person does not cast his vote, then he has no right to question the Government.”
“I agree with Supreme Court’s observation,” he said, adding, “Vote is not only right but the responsibility of people.” He also flayed the “chattering class of people” who criticise political parties but either don’t vote or vote on the basis of “caste or cash”.
“We have a chattering class of people who always criticise this or that party. They either don’t go for voting or some of them vote according to their sympathy over caste, religion and region. These things are misused by political parties,” he said.
He said when there is a large turnout in democracy people’s will is reflected.
“We political parties have their own interest, you can say vested interest. Larger turnout means larger reflection of people’s will. People should make it their sacred duty to go to polling booth and cast his vote,” Naidu added. (PTI)


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