NOTA Gets More Votes Than 19 Parties, Including NCP, CPI, LJPRV, JMM, JD(S) and SAD!
One of the most important tussles in the Mumbai North West constituency saw Amol Kirtikar from Shiv Sena -Uddhav Balasaheb Thackrey (SSUBT) losing by just 48 votes to Shiv Sena's Ravindra Waikar. Surprisingly, the third biggest vote puller in this constituency turned out to be 'None of the Above' (NOTA), which garnered 15,161 votes. There may be many more constituencies where NOTA would have even secured more votes than many parties. This indicates the anger among Indian voters about the quality of political candidates fielded by all parties, be it for the Lok Sabha, assembly, municipal ward or gram panchayat elections. 
 
In Mumbai, where voting is already low, the fact that 15,161 voters in a single constituency made an effort to venture out in the hot summer sun to register their disgust at the lack of choice or the breaking and switching of parties is a very serious message for those with a long-term political vision and the sagacity to read the signal. A citizen who makes an effort to press the NOTA button is an active participant in India's democracy who wants to register the absence of candidates who can be trusted to work for people. 
 
In 2013, the Supreme Court directed the election commission of India (ECI) to include the NOTA button on the EVM (electronic voting machine) for elections to the Lok Sabha and the respective state legislative assemblies. Since its introduction, NOTA has gained increasing popularity amongst the Indian electorate, securing more votes than some candidates in legislative assembly elections and, in some instances, securing more votes than the winning candidate in panchayat elections. 
 
In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, NOTA has secured nearly 1% or 6.37mn (million) votes, more than the votes registered by 19 parties individually, including some big names. For example, the Nationalist Congress Party - Sharadchandra Pawar (NCPSP), which won eight seats, garnered just 0.92% of total votes in this election. It is followed by the Communist Party of India (CPI), which received 0.49% votes and won two seats. Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) (LJPRV), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) received 0.44%, 0.41% and 0.34% of the total votes and have won five, three and two seats, respectively, data from ECI shows.
 
 
The 2024 general elections were held in seven phases between 19th April and 1 June 2024 to elect 543 members of the Lok Sabha. Votes were counted, and the result was declared on 4th June to form the 18th Lok Sabha. 
 
Over 968mn or 96.8 crore citizens out of a population of 1.4bn (billion) or 140 crore people are eligible to vote. However, as per data from ECI, 642mn or 64.2 crore voters participated in the largest-ever election (in terms of the number of voters) in India's history, lasting 44 days. 
 
Coming to NOTA, in 2013, in the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) vs Union of India case, the apex court directed ECI to include NOTA as an option for elections. The NOTA option was first used in the 2013 legislative assembly elections held in Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi.
 
However, in November 2013, the Supreme Court clarified that even if the majority of voters go for the 'none of the above option' or NOTA, it cannot direct the ECI to hold fresh polls as it is the job of the legislature.
 
According to Moneylife columnist Sunil Mahajan, NOTA is a positive vote which exhorts politicians of all hues to come up to the expectations of the voters. "NOTA does not imply indecisiveness—far from it. NOTA is a positive vote which says, I do not find any party or candidate suitable. It gives the voters a choice, of ticking off politicians who have failed to deliver or give tickets to good candidates. Why should the voters have to make a choice from the available options only, if they do not come up to our expectations? Rejection of all candidates is a positive choice. It sends a strong message to all politicians, and we need to send the message in large numbers," he wrote in April 2019. (Read: With NOTA, Voters Have a Choice To Reject All Unworthy Candidates
 
Since its introduction in 2013, savvy Indian voters, especially rural folks, have used it effectively to express their displeasure with the system. For example, in the 2019 Maharashtra assembly elections, Dhiraj Vilasrao Deshmukh of Congress won from the Latur Rural constituency by defeating his nearest rival, NOTA, by over 100,000 votes! The second biggest vote-getter in Latur was not his political rival but NOTA. As many as 26,899, or 14% of the voters, have rejected all other candidates and chose to register this fact by exercising their franchise. 
 
In the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, the total vote share of NOTA was less than that of BJP, Congress, and independent candidates. In 118 constituencies, NOTA polled the third largest vote share after BJP and Congress, says a report from The Hindu Business Line.
 
In the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections, NOTA polled more votes than some parties, such as CPI(M) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), that had a nationwide presence.
 
In the 2018 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, the difference between the vote share of the BJP and Congress was just 0.1%, whereas NOTA polled a vote share of 1.4%, according to a report from Times of India. "The number of no-choice votes crossed victory margins in a whopping 22 constituencies, felling four powerful ministers from BJP. While the gap between BJP and Congress vote share was only 0.1% (BJP being in the lead), NOTA bagged 1.4% of votes polled — over 5.4 lakh," the report says. 
 
For example, the report says in the South Gwalior constituency, the sitting MLA Narayan Singh Kushwah lost by 121 votes, whereas NOTA got 1,550 votes. Had all the NOTA voters hypothetically voted for Mr Kushwah, he would have won by a huge margin.
 
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 2G scam accused MP - A Raja, who was a candidate from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) - lost to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) candidate. In this election, NOTA emerged with the third-largest vote share, possibly as an expression of public anger towards corrupt candidates.
 
In the 2019 Indian general election, about 1.04% of the voters voted for NOTA, with Bihar and Assam leading with 2.08% NOTA voters.
 
Comments
s5rwav
2 weeks ago
NOTA can be a Decisive Factor in an Election in India is Proved by this Superb Practical Experient.
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