Arvind and Shiela were rejected by 460 voters; Shivraj Singh Chouhan was rejected by 4,112 voters

It was Chhattisgarh that polled the largest number of ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) votes — an option available for the first time to voters to reject all the candidates. Delhi recorded the least number of NOTA votes until results last came in.

As many as 10,848 voters exercised the option in Chitrakot, a small constituency in the naxal-affected Bastar region of Chhattisgarh — declared a “liberated zone” by left-wing extremists. This was the highest number in all four States where Assembly election results were declared on Sunday. The least number of NOTA votes was polled in Mehgaon in Madhya Pradesh, with 136 voters exercising the choice.

An interesting scenario emerged in Pansemal (reserved for the Scheduled Tribes) in Madhya Pradesh, where there were only two contestants — one from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the other from the Congress. While the winning BJP candidate polled 77,919 votes, his rival got 70,537, whereas 9,288 votes were recorded under NOTA — much more than the difference between the votes polled by the candidates.

The number of votes recorded under NOTA was higher in the constituencies falling under the naxal-affected regions of Bastar and Sarguja. Raipur City (Gramin) recorded 3,521 NOTA votes, while 5,673 voters rejected their candidates in Rajim. After Chitrakot, Dantewada recorded the second highest NOTA votes at 9,677, Keshkal, 8,381, Kondagaon, 6,773 and Pathalgaon 5,533.

The least number of voters to reject all the candidates were 874 in Lormi and 969 in adjoining Takhatpur. In all other constituencies, the number was 2,000 and above.

Chief Minister Raman Singh and his opponents were rejected in Rajnandgaon by 2,042 voters, while Marwahi from where Amit Jogi — the former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s son — and others were rejected by 7,115 voters. Mr. Jogi’s wife, Renu, and her opponents were rejected by 1,074 voters. Amit Jogi won with a record number of 46,000 votes — the highest in the State.

In Kawardha, Khairagarh, Khallari, and Dongargaon, the number of rejections under the NOTA was higher than the difference between the votes polled by the winning and losing candidates.

Least in Delhi

In comparison, voters in the National Capital did not reject their candidates as the number of NOTA recorded was much less with the highest number being recorded from Gokalpuri which was 1,338, followed by Sultanpur Majra at 1,232, Nangloi Jat at 1,171 and Uttam nagar at 1,041. In the rest of the constituencies, the number hovered in hundreds. Interestingly, Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party and Shiela Dikshit, both contesting from the New Delhi constituency, and others were rejected by 460 voters.

In Madhya Pradesh, the option was exercised by voters across the State with the figure ranging from 136 in Mehgaon, 189 in Lahar to 9,412 in Junnardeo. Vidisha, from where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won, recorded 4,112 votes under the NOTA. Similarly, in Jhalrapatan in Rajasthan — the constituency of Vasundhara Raje Scindia — 3,729 people rejected all the candidates.

Interestingly, there was no constituency where voters did not reject their candidates.

However, according to the Election Commission of India, NOTA votes will not be treated as valid. Under Section 158 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, it is the total number of valid votes polled by all candidates that is to be taken into account for calculating the one-sixth of votes polled by an individual for returning the security deposit. Hence, votes polled under the NOTA option will not be taken into account for calculating the total valid votes polled by the candidates for returning the deposit.

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