When is a candidate elected unopposed?

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When is a candidate elected unopposed?

  • Event Summary:
    • BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal was elected unopposed in Surat, Gujarat, after opposition nomination papers were rejected and other nominees withdrew.
    • This event prevented a scheduled poll on May 7 in Surat.

Legal Framework for Unopposed Elections

  • Representation of the People Act, 1951:
    • Section 53(3) outlines procedures for uncontested elections, allowing a returning officer to declare a candidate elected if uncontested.
    • Section 33 details nomination paper requirements and validation processes.
  • Specific Case:
    • Issues arose with Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani’s nomination due to discrepancies in proposer signatures.

Election Commission’s Guidelines

  • Handbook for Returning Officers (2023 Edition):
    • Describes procedures for declaring a candidate elected immediately after withdrawal deadline in uncontested elections.
    • Requires candidates with criminal backgrounds to disclose their records in a prescribed format and timeline.

NOTA and Negative Voting

  • NOTA Introduction and Impact:
    • NOTA (None of the Above) option has been available since 2013, allowing voters to express disapproval of candidates.
    • Introduced following a Supreme Court decision, emphasizing voter secrecy and democratic choice.
  • Rule 49-O:
    • Allows voters to formally record a decision not to vote for any candidate, which involves manual procedures at polling booths and could compromise voter secrecy.

Electoral Implications of NOTA

  • General Elections:
    • NOTA votes are counted but do not affect the outcome; the candidate with the most votes still wins.
  • Local Elections in Maharashtra:
    • NOTA is considered a fictional candidate; if NOTA receives the most votes, a re-poll is mandated.

Developments and Criticisms of NOTA

  • Political Impact:
    • Instances where NOTA votes surpassed those for certain political parties, sparking debate.
  • Supreme Court and Electoral Reforms:
    • Recently, the Supreme Court asked the Election Commission to respond to a plea for fresh elections in constituencies where NOTA votes are in the majority.
  • Activist Criticisms:
    • NOTA is seen as ineffective (“toothless tiger”) in influencing election outcomes despite significant voter support in some cases.

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