Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi today welcomed the Supreme Court order giving voters the right to cast a negative vote rejecting all candidates and pitched for compulsory voting, saying it would make democracy "vibrant and participative".
"I wholeheartedly welcome this. I am sure it will have a long lasting impact on our polity and will be a great step in the direction of further electoral reforms that can make our democracy even more vibrant and participative," Modi said in his blog.
"Compulsory voting too, has several advantages that can make our democracy stronger. It will even mitigate fears about elections becoming display of money power," BJP's prime ministerial candidate, said.
Modi said by bringing in compulsory voting, mindless and extravagant expenditure on elections would be checked as the voters will anyway have to come to the polling booth and exercise their franchise.
The BJP leader said electoral reforms like the right to reject or compulsory voting would not violate the right to freedom of expression but "add completeness in the opportunity for expression".
"Right now, you are getting only half the right of expression- that of selecting the person or party. In future, you will get a complete right of expression- of even rejecting the candidates," Modi said.
"It is not that something is being snatched from the voters. If compulsory schooling for children is advocated, can you say that we are denying a child his or her childhood?" Modi asked.
"We introduced a bill on compulsory voting, which even included the Right to Reject but Congress Party opposed it tooth and nail. The bill was passed twice (in the state assembly), in 2008 and in 2009, but it was then withheld by the Honourable Governor (Kamla Beniwal)," Modi said.