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dna exclusive: Lokpal done, Anna Hazare eyes right to reject and recall

Friday, 20 December 2013 - 6:51am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

After successfully getting the Congress-led UPA government to approve the Lokpal Bill, anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare is planning to rekindle his struggle for electoral reforms such as the ‘right to reject’ and ‘right to recall’.

In addition, in an attempt to stop the use of money power in the elections, Hazare and his associates may also go around administering oath to people to desist from casting their votes for money.

One of Hazare’s close associate told dna that the right to reject and the right to recall were “likely to be on their agenda” to weed out corruption along with a campaign to persuade people to vote without taking money or inducements from candidates or political parties.

“Even though we may not plunge into politics directly, we will focus on the cleansing of the political system and elections,” the aide added.

Earlier, Hazare had stressed on the right of voters to reject all candidates in an election to keep away criminals and tainted people from becoming lawmakers, and the right to recall elected representatives in case their performance was found wanting.

Though the Election Commission of India (ECI) has introduced the ‘none of the above’ button on the electronic voting machines, the right to reject, which will be on the lines of provisions in some western countries, will also include the elections being countermanded in case a majority of the votes cast were in the NOTA category.

The Gandhian had also written to prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011, seeking electoral reforms.

However, Hazare’s associate and social activist Vishwambhar Choudhari pointed out that electoral reforms were superficial without wider political reforms. “We must go beyond this (electoral reforms) and press for introduction of political reforms,” he said.

Choudhari said this could include formulation of a code of conduct and protocol for political parties as compared to the present system which kicks in only during elections. “We need to plug the supply side,” he said, referring to the use of money power in elections, adding that the demand side could be robust in a country like India where poverty was endemic.

In the past, Hazare and social activist Medha Patkar had campaigned during polls for “clean candidates” like home minister R R Patil. However, his aides said Hazare has not yet decided on campaigning for such candidates in the 2014 elections.

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