New Delhi: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to form a government in Gujarat, and the Congress is boasting about a ‘moral victory’, these elections have thrown up another winner: NOTA. In what could have changed the fortunes of the Congress party in the tight battle of Gujarat, almost half a million voters of the state chose to press the NOTA button during the elections.
The vote share of NOTA in Gujarat elections, which stands at almost 1.8% of the electorate at the time of filing this report, is higher than that of parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
According to the real-time data released by The Election Commission of India, a total number of 5,50,607 voters chose not to vote for any of the party during the elections.
The Election Commission considers NOTA votes ‘invalid’, even though the votes are counted.
In constituencies such as Somnath, Naranpura, Gandhidham, NOTA registered more votes than some registered parties.
In Porbandar, the winning margin of the BJP's Babubhai Bokhriya is 1,855, while NOTA received 3,433 votes.
Earlier as well, NOTA played a significant role in many state elections.
During the Uttar Pradesh elections this year, which saw BJP get a thumping majority in the state, nearly seven lakh of the electorate decided not to vote for any political party or candidate. NOTA polled nearly 1% of the vote share in the state which has 403 Assembly constituencies.
In Uttarakhand elections, NOTA got a 1% vote share or nearly 50,000 votes, winning over Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, which got a meager 0.7%. Similar trends were also seen in Punjab, where NOTA’s vote share was 0.7% and Goa where NOTA won a considerable 1.2% of the total vote share.
According to the Election Commission of India, NOTA received 947,276 votes, or 2.5% of the vote share in the state of Bihar in 2016. That was more than the 864,856 votes won by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAMS).
In a landmark judgment in September 2013, the Supreme Court allowed voters to cast negative vote by pressing a NOTA button if a voter feels that none of the candidates in the fray is worthy of his or her vote.
After the court verdict, the NOTA option was first used during the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh in November 2013.