As election “season” approaches, not to forget, amidst the raging Covid-19 pandemic, the voters try to wrap their head around some political lingo, just as much as they struggle to keep corona out of their way.
Let’s talk about NOTA first, which is short for “none of the above”. When a person votes NOTA, none of the participating candidates take the lead, whether they deserved it or not.
Consider for example Gujarat Assembly Elections of 2017, during when, nearly 5.5 lakh voters chose NOTA making it the “third-largest party” there. In theory, this may seem to be “nice” as the voters demonstrated their frustration with the “system”.
However, there’s a severe problem with NOTA…
Here’s the thing: “Indecision” is not necessarily a show of strength, especially, not in life. More often than not, you must take sides, just to arrive at an important conclusion, so to put an “end to the mystery” with either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.
Analogy: Suppose you bend on your knee to make a sweet, romantic proposal to some-one-long-cherished. But, they friend-zone you instead! That, is pretty much similar to NOTA, is it not?
In other words, NOTA reflects “indecisiveness” of the voter, and not so much the show of his/her strength.
Even though, historically, NOTA was built upon the foundations of democracy, there’s a “catch” and a big one at that…
Let’s say, there are 4 “substandard” candidates which piss you and everyone off, so much so, that all of you people, decide to go NOTA, just to express your disgust!
Well, then, you may think that there’d be a re-election and that parties would seat new, “decent” candidates in your area.
But no…that wouldn’t be the case, because under the “rules” of NOTA, even the “substandard” candidate which secures the most “non-NOTA votes” would be declared the winner!
So, ultimately, nobody wins, not even the democracy.
Now, moving on, to “There Is No Alternative” aka TINA.
This “TINA phenomenon” first appeared on the political scene during Nehru’s 15-year term as India’s first Prime Minister. Everyone wondered: “Who else if not for Pandit Nehru?”
Similarly for Indira Gandhi: “Indira is India, India is Indira” and for Narendra Modi Ji: “If not Modi, then who? Aayega to Modi hi!!”
But, if truth be told, TINA is a myth. New powerful alternatives have always arisen out of necessity. For example, BJP is seen as an alternative to Congress. In Delhi, AAP surfaced as an alternative to Congress and BJP in 2014.
Analogy: Suppose you undergo a crushing breakup in your relationship. Then, you think you’re doomed and that there’s nobody else out there! But, eventually, you grow out of it, meet new people and develop more promising relationships.
In much the same way, there exist several deserving politicians who could replace the governing ones, if only the people had an eye for them, during the election season. This “replacement” is a democratic exercise which must not be forsaken at all cost.
So, TINA is merely an election phenomenon which is used most likely to submerge democracy. It better be replaced, as soon as possible, by TIAA (There is always alternative) because there is!