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Because, every vote counts

Apr 19, 2024 08:36 AM IST

On Friday, as the biggest electoral exercise gets underway with election to 102 Lok Sabha seats, PM Modi sent out a message for making every vote count

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has set itself a seemingly difficult target of winning 400 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, is making a concerted effort to ensure a high voter turnout as the first phase of the 2024 general elections get underway from Friday. The party has a target of increasing its vote share from the present 37% to 50%.

A sand sculpture in Puri on the 2024 general elections. (Sudarsan Pattnaik)
A sand sculpture in Puri on the 2024 general elections. (Sudarsan Pattnaik)

The party’s ideological fountain, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which otherwise maintains distance from electoral politics, has for long advocated ensuring full participation in the polling process. For years, the vast network of RSS cadres reaches out to voters with the message of making every vote count.

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Although India has not yet made voting mandatory, there has been a section within the ‘Sangh Parivaar’ that sees merit in compulsory voting.

The parliament has debated the issues too. A private member’s bill moved by BJP MP Janardan Sigriwal to make voting compulsory did not elicit support from the lawmakers. The government too did not back the idea. In 2022, during a discussion on the bill, the government said the idea was impractical and would be open to legal challenges. Their stance was voting is a right and not a compulsory duty.

The RSS also canvasses against the use of NOTA, or None of the Above. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has put on record his dislike for NOTA, an option that allows voters to indicate their disapproval for all the candidates in the fray in a constituency.

While urging voters to refrain from pushing the NOTA button, he said people should instead choose “from the available best”.

To be sure, the percentage of NOTA votes came down in 2019 to 1.06% from 1.08% in 2014.

Bihar recorded the highest percentage of NOTA vote share at 2%, followed by Andhra Pradesh at 1.54% and Chhattisgarh at 1.44%. In 2014, Meghalaya registered the highest number of NOTA votes at 2.80%, followed by Chhattisgarh with 1.83% and Gujarat with 1.76%.

On Friday, as the biggest electoral exercise gets underway with election to 102 Lok Sabha seats, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a message for making every vote count.

“The 2024 Lok Sabha elections commence today! As 102 seats across 21 states and UTs go to the polls, I urge all those voting in these seats to exercise their franchise in record numbers. I particularly call upon the young and first-time voters to vote in large numbers. After all, every vote counts and every voice matters!” the PM said in a message on ‘X’.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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