2016 Assembly polls: The NOTA Effect


In Tamil Nadu

There may be no correlation between a candidate’s margin of victory and the number of voters opting for “none of the above”, but those who lose by slender margins may rue the presence of the last button on the electronic voting machines.

At least 25 second-placed candidates in Tamil Nadu may have not been happy to see that the number of NOTA votes in their constituencies exceeded the margin of their defeat.

NOTA accounted for 1.3 per cent, or 5,61,244 votes of the total votes polled in the State in a closely fought Assembly election.

NOTA was ahead of Naam Tamilar Katchi (1.1 per cent), MDMK (0.9), CPI (0.8), VCK (0.8), CPI(M) (0.7), IUML (0.7), Tamil Maanila Congress (0.5), and Puthiya Tamilagam (0.5).

In Kerala

The NOTA option — exercised by voters to express their disenchantment with candidates in the poll fray — played a decisive role in four Assembly segments in Kerala, polling more than the winners’ victory margins.

As a result, the winners in Peerumade, Kasaragod, Koduvally, and Wadakkancherry recorded victory margins of less than 1,000 votes.

In Wadakkancherry, where a faulty electronic voting machine delayed the declaration of results, the Congress’s Anil Akkara won by 43 votes while NOTA polled 969 votes.

Peerumade — where the CPI’s sitting MLA E.S. Bijimol trumped the Congress’s Syriac Thomas by 314 votes — saw 448 votes polled for NOTA.

The performances of the BSP candidate, who got 489 votes, and the AIADMK candidate, who polled 2,862 votes, also proved critical there.

Overall, the Assembly polls in Kerala this time recorded a whopping 1,07,239 NOTA votes, about 0.53 per cent of the total votes polled.

West Bengal

The percentage of NOTA 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 Assam

Nine constituencies out of the 126 in Assam witnessed the phenomenon of the number of NOTA votes exceeding the margin of victory.

The BJP’s Kishor Nath, who contested in Barkhola, was lucky that 1,621 voters expressed lack of faith in any of the candidates in the field by opting for NOTA. He edged out Independent candidate Misbaul Islam Laskar by as few as 42 votes.

Chandan Kumar Sarkar of the Congress, who lost by a slender margin of 189 votes in Abhayapuri South (SC), may not have been happy that 1,113 voters opted for NOTA.

Assam saw a marginal increase in the percentage of voters opting for the ‘None of the Above’ option over the figure for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. As many as 1,47,057 voters, accounting for one per cent of the total valid votes, pressed the NOTA button in 2014.

source: The Hindu

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