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Why NOTA ends up becoming a deal-breaker for political parties

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New Delhi, Apr 15: In the midst of the electoral battle for the 17th Lok Sabha, there is a lurking fear amidst political parties. Many would fear the NOTA over their opponent as previous elections have shown that this option can wreck havoc for the prospects of candidates.

Last week, the chief of the RSS, Mohan Bhagwat said the voter should say either 'yes' or 'no.' Staying quiet is not an option he added, while making a reference to the None Of The Above option, that was introduced following a Supreme Court order. The option was first introduced in the 2013 assembly elections.

Why NOTA ends up becoming a deal-breaker for political parties

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, there were over 60 lakh NOTA votes that were polled. This accounted to 1.1 per cent of the votes. A total of 55 crore votes were polled. Since 2013, at least 261 assembly constituencies had more NOTA votes than the winning margin.

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In the 2017 Gujarat elections, there were 21 constituencies which had more NOTA votes than the winning margin.

This in fact had played spoilsport for the BJP as it lost 12 seats by a margin that was lesser than the NOTA votes.

Looking back at the 2018 assembly elections NOTA managed to outperform several parties such as the AAP and Samajwadi Party. The NOTA votes polled in Chhattisgarh was recorded at 2 per cent while in Mizoram it was 0.5 per cent.

AAP had fielded 85 candidates in Chhattisgarh and they recorded 0.9 per cent of the votes when compared to the 2 per cent NOTA votes. The NCP recorded 0.2 per cent of the votes while in the case of the CPI it was 0.3 per cent. SP too secured 0.2 per cent of the votes, thus signalling that the NOTA votes had outdone all these parties.

In the Madhya Pradesh elections, both the SP and AAP polled 1.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, while NOTA polled 1.4 per cent.

In Rajasthan, the CPI got 1.2 per cent of the votes, while the SP and AAP secured, 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively. The RLD on the other hand polled 0.3 per cent, while NOTA ended up with 1.3 per cent.

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In Telangana, NOTA with 1.1 per cent outdid the CPI (M) and CPI which polled 0.4 per cent. The NCP bagged 0.1 per cent in Telangana.

Political parties are extremely worried about people exercising this option as it has played spoilsport.

The BJP suffered due to NOTA in the Madhya Pradesh elections. In 23 constituencies, the NOTA votes were more than the margin of victory. In these seats, the Congress won 12 and the rest were bagged by the BJP.

Take for instance the Kolaras constituency, where the victory margin was 720 votes. Here NOTA polled 1,674 votes. In Bina, the victory margin was just 632 as opposed to the 1,528 NOTA votes.

It was in the 2015 Bihar elections that NOTA polled the highest at 9 lakh votes. This is 2.5 per cent of the total votes that the state polled. NOTA was higher than the victory margin in 21 constituencies and the Amnour seat witnessed the highest at 6,447. The victory margin in this seat was 5,251. In the Tarari constituency, the victory margin was just 272 and NOTA polled 3,858.

In the 2016 elections held in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, 62 of the 822 constituencies polled more NOTA votes than the victory margin. NOTA beat the victory margin in 24 constituencies each in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. In the case of Assam and Kerala it was nine and four, while in Puducherry it was one. In all there were 17 lakh NOTA votes in these states and the percentage stood at 1.25.

In the 2017 elections that were held in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the NOTA votes were at 1.83 per cent or 5.50 lakh. The Danta constituency in Gujarat recorded the highest at 6,641 NOTA votes.

The lowest was at Mahesana at 686.

In Himachal Pradesh, the highest number of NOTA votes polled was at Jogindernagar. The count stood at 1,162.

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