Congress, Left oppose Gujarat move on compulsory votingDecember 20th, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) The Congress and Left parties have opposed the Gujarat government’s move to make voting compulsory in local body elections in the state.
Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said forced voting was an infringement of individual rights.
“I feel forced voting is an infringement of individual rights. Coercive measures should not be used,” Ahmed told IANS.
The Gujarat assembly Saturday adopted an official bill making voting compulsory in elections to all local bodies in the state, which Chief Minister Narendra Modi termed a “historic move to strengthen democracy”.
Ahmed said the issue of compulsory voting had not been discussed within the party but added that people should not be forced to vote.
He said the move of the Gujarat government will lead to complications as people not coming to vote may be asked to produce certificates.
Ahmed said a person who does not want to vote for any candidate may decide against going to a polling booth.
Recalling the audio-visual campaign launched before the last Delhi assembly elections to boost voting, he said voters should be “persuaded” to vote in the same manner and not “coerced”.
“In a democratic set up, people should be encouraged to vote. They should not be forced. We are against it,” he said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader in the Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharia said the party did not support the Gujarat government’s move.
“People should feel that voting is their right. It should be done by creating awareness and not through coercion,” he said.
Asked if the CPI-M would urge the state governor to return the bill to the assembly for reconsideration, Acharia said the party had not discussed the issue.
Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta, speaking in the same vein, said people cannot be forced to vote. “We are cautioning them (Gujarat government) that people cannot be forced to vote,” he said.
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