Raising their pitch on electoral reforms, Anna Hazare and his team demanded that ‘right to reject’ option be included in EVMs and that two Election Commissioners be given constitutional status like the Chief Election Commissioner.
During their meeting with the Election Commission in New Delhi on Thursday, Team Anna also voiced support for barring candidates against whom a court has framed charges, from contesting elections.
Hazare, along with his close associates Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, discussed the matter for about an hour with Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi.
The Team raised issues like inclusion of form 49(O), wherein a voter can say he does not want to vote for any of the candidates, use of totalizer in the counting process and barring of candidates against whom courts have framed charges.
According to Team Anna, the meeting was very useful and the Commission was very receptive to their ideas and demands.After the meeting, Hazare told reporters that ‘right to reject’ was very important and that it would help in cleansing the electoral scenario.
Bedi said there was no need for bringing the right to reject issue in Parliament as it just need an amendment in rules.
“The matter is pending with the Law Ministry since 2001. What is needed is a rule amendment. It just needs a notification,” Bedi said.
To a question on reports about government plans to take the power from the Commission to oversee implementation of Model Code of Conduct, Hazare said it was wrong if the government was planning to do so.
“This is wrong. The Election Commission is an independent body. The government should not have any hold on the body. If there is interference, then the body will lose it power. If the government does so, then there is no point in talking about independence of the Election Commission,” he said.
While the Chief Election Commissioner is constitutionally protected, Hazare said the two Election Commissioners should also be given the same status.”Now only the CEC enjoys constitutional status. He cannot be removed at the whims and fancies of the government. The other two do not have this status. They should also get it,” Hazare said.
He said right to reject should be brought in before the next Lok Sabha polls. On using ‘totaliser’ for counting, Bedi said that it will help in mixing all the votes of a constituency and thus no candidate will come to know that which locality did not vote for him. “We were also told that this issue is also pending.”
Asked whether he will tour Uttar Pradesh and Goa where Assembly polls are on, he said his team members are receiving tremendous response.”I will tour the nation before the 2014,” he said, without talking about his plans to embark on an immediate tour of the states having polls.
On the Supreme Court verdict on police action in Ramlila Maidan during yoga guru Ramdev’s agitation last year, he said he will react after reading the judgement.