I bet you've got that email in your inbox exhorting you to vote for 'nobody'. Because if enough people do that, and 'nobody' gets the maximum votes, the election result will be cancelled and all candidates who stood for that particular election will be disqualified.
And this is all under a section in the Indian Constitution called 49-0.
But sadly, as Shekhar Gupta observed in his column in the Indian Express today:
Any number of illiterate emails and SMSes now float around, not merely cursing politicians, but spreading utter falsehoods about the Constitution and laws... Most of us passed our class X Civics a long time ago, and God alone knows how, so let’s not question anybody’s knowledge of our Constitution.
But none of the thousands of very well-educated, rich, successful, respectable people through whom this silly mail has passed and been forwarded, have bothered to check that venerable document. For, if they did, at least one myth would have been set at rest: Article 49 deals with something very important, but it is not the right of negative vote, but the protection of our monuments.
The funny thing is I actually got to know of this Section 49-0 from a journalist! It was last Sunday and I was on my way to see Oye Lucky when a breathless young voice from DNA called and explained to me what it was all about.
"So what do you think?" she asked.
I said,"Not much... It's just another way to think I have done something when actually you have not. Real change will come only when 10% of the youth who today toil to crack a CAT or GMAT or dream of success in conventional terms change their outlook and devote themselves to the hard task of nation-building."
I have no idea whether a story was published on Monday but a search at the DNA website shows that on Wednesday the paper itself woke up and realised the email being circulated was a hoax.
Goes to show anyone can pull an 'Oye Lucky' ... The mythical section 49-0 expressed an emotion we all felt ("screw those politicians"). And that emotion robbed us of good old common sense!
P.S. Ritesh wrote in with this clarification:
You are very correct in pointing out that such thing does not exists in constitution. But the article being talked about in forwarded mails is actually Rule 49-O of Conduct of election rules. Fact is that there is a "Rule 49-O" in the "Conduct of Election Rules 1961" which is published in the gazette of India which states only that you may decide not to vote even after you have signed the "register of voters". Source: http://lawmin.nic.in/ld/subord/cer1.htm
However, there is still no evidence of revoting if no of people opting out exceeds no of votes secured by the winning candidate. So have really no idea how effective this could be. But at least we can inform people that such a clause exists.
My friend even tried this at recent Rajasthan assembly elections. The booth officer told him to sign against his name in the voter list and write "Not voting to any candidate" against his name.