The total NOTA (none of the above) polled in Maharashtra is 4,86,902, with Palghar district leading with 29,479 such votes, followed by the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli-Chimur recording 24,599 NOTA votes and Beed district recording 2,500 such votes, as per the Election Commission of India.
In Palghar, Rajendra Gavit from the Shiv Sena emerged winner while Baliram Jadhav from Bahujan Aaghadi lost with a margin of 88,883. In 2014, advocate Chintaman Wanga of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won with a margin of 2,39,530.
In Gadchiroli-Chimur, Ashok Nete from the BJP was leading while Dr Namdeo Usendi from Indian National Congress (INC) was trailing with a margin of 77,276. Mr. Nete had also won the seat in 2014.
Nandurbar had the third highest number of NOTA votes, with Dr. Heena Gavit from the BJP winning the seat against Advocate K.C. Padavi from the Congress.
In Mumbai, there were 18,204 NOTA votes in the North West constituency. The constituency witnessed a tough fight between Gajanan Kirtikar from the Shiv Sena who was set to win his second term, versus Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress. Mr. Kirtikar was leading by a margin of 2.6 lakh votes.
In 2014, Maharashtra registered 4,83,459 NOTA votes. The Supreme Court cleared the introduction of the NOTA button on September 27, 2013, after the People’s Union for Civil Liberties filed a petition seeking the measure. It was inserted for the first time during the last Lok Sabha elections.
Explaining why voters opt for NOTA, Jagdeep Chhokar of the Association for Democratic Reforms said, “‘Red alert’ constituencies are those with candidates having three or more criminal cases pending against them. In this election, 49% are red alert constituencies.”
When voters do not have a choice, they chose NOTA, signalling dissatisfaction with the candidates, he said. “The rules regarding NOTA in Maharashtra will change. If there are more NOTA votes than those going to candidates, the State Election Commission has decided the election will be cancelled and held again.”