One of the significant aspect of the Assembly elections 2016 is the percentage of the NOTA (none of the above) which gives the voter the opportunity to reject all of the given candidates.
Puducherry had highest NOTA %; but Bengal had far higher NOTA voters
While Puducherry saw the highest NOTA figure of 1.7 per cent (13,240 votes), West Bengal saw the highest number of voters opting for the NOTA (8.31 lakh) with the percentage of 1.5. Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala saw the NOTA percentage of 1.1, 1.3 and 0.5, respectively. [Left's existence at stake in Bengal]
The NOTA option was started in the five Assembly elections in 2013 following an observation by the Supreme Court.
High NOTA figures in Bengal neutralised anti-incumbency
The big number of voters in Bengal going for the NOTA option suggests that the anti-incumbency factor was neutralised to a big extent, facilitating Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) which swept the election.
2 reasons for high NOTA votes in Bengal
Two reasons are responsible for the significant NOTA numbers (in terms of voters and percentage, NOTA is ranked eighth, ahead of an old party like the CPI). The RSP, ranked seventh, got 9.1 lakh votes and 1.7 per cent vote-share, not much ahead of the NOTA either.
The first reason is the dissatisfaction among the urban middle-class with the TMC government who did not find either thr alliance or the BJP any better and secondly, the Left-Congress alliance, as they called it, to topple Banerjee.
Several disgruntled supporters of Left and Congress went for NOTA
The second reason was more critical in this election. The pro-alliance leaders of the Left and Congress had predicted that the tie-up would not only see their supporters coming together and vote, hence adding up the anti-TMC votes, but also win back the votes that had gone to the BJP in the last general elections as well as the minority votes that the TMC snatched from the Left. [Comrade, elections are not fought in AC studios]
BJP votes didn't return nor did the minorities and many supporters too dumped alliance
But nothing of that sort happened. The BJP lost its vote-share for sure but the swing was more in favour of the TMC than the alliance. Neither the minorities felt it would be wise to return to the Left since they did little for them in over three decades, compared to that of the current regime.
Bengal's NOTA voters in 2014 LS poll were 5.68L, 2.6L less than 2016 election
And the hope of the Congress and Left supporters coming together to vote for the alliance candidates was also dashed since several supporters felt the alliance was not an ethical one, given the long history of struggle between them. Many supporters of the two alliance partners voted for the NOTA or even the TMC to express their disgust.[Alliance with Left will see Congress lose in long term]
The result: the TMC just blew away its opponents.