3.07 per cent of valid votes went to NOTA in Chhattisgarh, 0.63 per cent in Delhi

Political parties have chosen to remain indifferent to ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA), an option given to voters for the first time to reject all contestants, saying it is irrelevant because it did not impact the outcome of the recent Assembly elections.

While in Chhattisgarh, 3.07 per cent of the valid votes went to NOTA — the highest among the four States for which results were declared on Sunday — in Delhi, it was 0.63 per cent. Voters in Mizoram did not find the option interesting: very few exercised the choice, with figures ranging from 36 to less than 200 hits.

Interestingly, in Chhattisgarh even a marginal difference in vote share makes or mars government formation. This time, the difference is less than 0.75 per cent between the winning Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress).

For some, the trend means that parties should put up acceptable candidates and avoid dubious ones, but parties say that since it does not impact the outcome, it is irrelevant. “All it [NOTA] has done is to give voters a right to exercise, which is a fundamental right; but there was neither clarity on what it meant nor its consequences,” D. Raja of the Communist Party of India told The Hindu.

Going through the results for every State, it is obvious that in more than 60 per cent of the constituencies, the third highest number of votes went to NOTA. This suggests that the option attracted those who never go to vote — possibly out of disenchantment with the system — and provided voters with an opportunity to express themselves rather than abstaining.

The NOTA’s figures in the Left Wing Extremists-dominated areas of Bastar may as well be an expression of disenchantment with electoral politics, as espoused by the Maoists, as it may be an individual voter’s dislike for the candidates in fray in places like Chitrakot, where more than 10,000 voters chose the option. In the Konta constituency in Chhattisgarh, where CPI candidate Manish Kunjam secured third position, the difference of votes was just 2,100, whereas 4,000 voters chose NOTA.

Agreeing that some of those who opted for NOTA could have voted for a party if NOTA was not there, Mr. Raja said it was too early to say what made people choose NOTA, instead of abstaining. “Maybe, anxiety or lack of clarity.”Interestingly, the percentage of NOTA voters was high in the tribal belts of Rajasthan, compared with urban areas. The total percentage of NOTA in the State was 1.92 per cent.

According to the Election Commission, the tribal district of Dungarpur in south Rajasthan tops the list of 33 districts where the maximum NOTA voting was recorded. Madhya Pradesh recorded 1.92 per cent votes on NOTA.

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