The percentage of NOTA (none of the above) votes shot up to 1.5 in 2016 in West Bengal, a surge of 0.4 percentage points from 1.1 clocked during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, when it was introduced.
While 8,31,845 voters from West Bengal have opted for NOTA in 2016, it was three lakh fewer in 2014. As many as 568,276 of the electors opted for NOTA in 2016. West Bengal recorded the highest number of NOTA votes among the five States where elections were conducted.
“I have opted for NOTA,” said a senior journalist, on condition of anonymity. “My house is in south Kolkata’s Kasba constituency and I am completely exhausted with the civic facilities provided earlier by the Left Front and now by Trinamool Congress,” the journalist said. She alleged that the house where she lived had not received treated water since 1998, when the complex was inaugurated. “Left Front was in power then and I have not received it in the past five years, despite several applications,” she said. Grievances galore have dissuaded the electors from opting for any one political party or candidate. Many have boycotted the election in 2016.
In 23 constituencies, NOTA was greater than the margin of victory. The districts of Bardhaman and Bankura had four constituencies each where NOTA votes were higher than the victory margins of candidates. The districts of Dakshin Dinajpur, Maldah and North 24 Parganas have two constituencies each, while Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Uttar Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, Hugli, Birbhum and Purba Medinipur have one constituency each where NOTA counts were higher than the winning margin. Of the 23 seats, the Left-Congress alliance bagged 13 and Trinamool got 10. NOTA has “defeated” some of the old political parties, such as the CPI and the SUCI(C).