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How NOTA played spoilsport in 30 crucial seats in Gujarat polls

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 20, 2017

NEW DELHI, 17/11/2013: Election Commission official explaining the functioning of NOTA option on a electronic voting machiene, in New Delhi on Sunday V. Sudershan   -  The Hindu

Being used for the first time in Gujarat Assembly polls, NOTA secured the fourth largest vote-share, after the BJP, Congress and Independents.

None-of-the-above (NOTA) played a spoilsport for the Congress and the ruling BJP in the recently-concluded Gujarat Assembly elections, which drew a whopping 1.8 per cent — or 5.51 lakh of the total votes cast — during the two-phase polling.

Being used for the first time in Gujarat Assembly polls, NOTA secured the fourth largest vote-share, after the BJP, Congress and Independents, thereby becoming a crucial factor in the race to achieve a majority-mark in the 182-seat House.

According to an ADR India analysis, there were 30 seats (or 16 per cent of the total constituencies) where NOTA secured more votes than the margin of victory. In as many as 118 constituencies, NOTA was the third largest after the two parties.

Danta constituency registered the highest NOTA, at 6,461 votes, whereas Mehsana constituency saw the lowest NOTA, at 686 votes. Congress won the Danta seat with a margin of over 24,000 votes, while Deputy CM and BJP candidate Nitin Patel won the Mehsana seat with a margin of over 7,000 votes.

In the backdrop of the reservation mass movement, caste-based political campaigning and the development rhetoric by the ruling party, voters’ choice for either the BJP or the Congress held the key. A large number of voters who have been committed to either party refrained from choosing any of them and opted for NOTA.

Irritant for BJP

For the BJP, NOTA became an irritant on at least seven seats, where its heavyweights had to face a defeat or near defeat as the margins were lesser than the votes that went into NOTA. For example, in Botad, former energy minister Saurabh Patel won by a narrow margin of 906 votes, while there were 1,334 NOTA votes. In Dholka, BJP veteran Bhupendrasinh Chudasama could barely make it with a 327 vote margin, with 2,347 NOTA votes.

Those who lost with smaller margin than NOTA votes included the BJP’s Assembly Speaker Ramanlal Vora from Dasada with 3,728 votes, against 3,796 NOTA votes. Also, agriculture minister Chimanbhai Shapariya lost from Jamjodhpur seat with a margin of 2,518, whereas NOTA votes on the constituency were 3214.

Tougher for Congress

For the Congress, victory became unreachable after its crucial seats including that of former GPCC chiefs Arjun Modhwadia and Siddharth Patel were lost with lower margin than the NOTA votes. Patel lost by 2,839 votes, as against 3,046 NOTA votes, while for Modhwadia the loss margin was 1,855 against the NOTA votes of 3,433.

In Godhra, Congress turncoat CK Raulji, who had joined the BJP during the time of Rajya Sabha elections in August, won by a paltry margin of 258 votes, while the NOTA votes were 3050.

In the final tally, the BJP secured 99 seats, while the Congress got 77. One Congress-supported Independent from Vadgam — Jignesh Mewani — and two Independents each from Lunawada and Morva Hadaf seats won, too. The two Independents won by a margin of 3,200 and 4,366 votes against NOTA of 3,419 and 4,962 votes.

Out of the 30 seats on which NOTA votes were more than the winning margin, the BJP lost on 13 seats, while the Congress lost on 15 seats.

Published on December 20, 2017
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