NOTA (None of The Above) was the 4th most popular option of Gujarat voters in Assembly election 2017. Above 5.5 lakh people opted for NOTA in the state assembly elections that concluded on Monday with the announcement of the results. This amounts to 1.8% of the valid votes. BJP attained 49.1% of the vote share, followed by Congress (41.4%) and independents (4.3%).
These are voters who rejected the major parties (BJP & INC), the small local parties and the independent candidates, but chose to vote in order to show their disapproval towards all the candidates or discontent in the political system.
While 1.8% seems to be only a minute fraction of the total votes, in 28 out of 182 constituencies, votes for NOTA were higher than the winning margin. This means in 15% of the total constituencies, the results could have been different if these voters who opted for NOTA would have voted for any of the available candidates.
Out of these 28 seats where NOTA votes were higher than the winning margin, 15 seats went to the BJP while 11 were won by the Congress. The independents won the remaining two seats.
The Congress failed to retain its seat in Godhra, losing to the BJP. The margin of votes between the two parties were only 258 while NOTA votes were 3050.
In Ahmedabad’s Dholka constituency, BJP Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama won with a thin margin of 327 votes defeating Ashwin Rathod of the Congress. Independent candidate Shaktisinh Sisodiya was the third highest with 4,222 votes, with NOTA getting 2,347 votes. It is important to note that BJP had won the seat in 2012 with a comfortable margin of 18,845 votes – a clear indication that if not for NOTA, the results could have easily gone against the BJP minister.
In Porbandar, Arjun Modhwadia of the Congress lost to sitting BJP member and Cabinet Minister Babubhai Bokhiria who won this time with a thin margin of 1,855 votes. While the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate got 4,337 votes, NOTA votes totalled 3,433. Bokhiria had won the seat in 2012 with a margin of 17,146 votes.
Conversely, one can also argue Kaprada in Valsad district that saw the lowest margin of victory at 170 votes could have easily gone to the BJP if not for NOTA that received 3868 votes. The Congress had won the seat in 2012 with a margin of 18,865 votes but saw its margin reduced to lower three digits, barely managing to hold the seat. The BJP won 4 out of the 5 seats in Valsad district with only Kaprada going to the Congress on the strength of a slender margin.
In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, NOTA constituted 1.1% of the total votes. NOTA was introduced in 2013. Chattisgarh recorded the highest NOTA vote share (3.07) in all Assembly elections. This is followed by Bihar (2.48) and Rajasthan (1.91). Gujarat stands 5th.
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