NOTA not a popular choice in assembly polls

New Delhi, Dec 8: Introduced for the first time, the None of the Above (NOTA) option got few takers in the assembly elections in four states, results for which were declared Sunday.

The highest percentage of NOTA votes was polled in Chhattisgarh, which was also the first of the five states to go to polls November-December.

A total of 4.6 percent voters chose this option in Chhattisgarh.

In Rajasthan, 1.5 percent voters chose NOTA, while the number was 1.4 percent in Madhya Pradesh.

Delhi had the smallest number of voters choosing NOTA, with only 0.58 percent of the total votes falling in this category. Delhi has over 11.5 million eligible voters.

Political expert Pradip Kumar Datta said one of the reasons for NOTA not being very effective could be that it has “no teeth”.

“NOTA by itself is not very effective. You go all the way and stand in a line to say you are discontented. But it is simply a record of your discontent which has no value,” said Datta, professor of political science at Delhi University.

“If there were a provision like majority NOTA votes would lead to repoll, the option would have had some practical teeth… and probably some value for the voters,” he told IANS.

“NOTA is anyhow toothless as of now, because even if 99 percent votes are NOTA, and a candidate gets one percent votes, he will still win,” said Yashwant Deshmukh, founder of the Centre for Voting Opinion and Trends in Election Research (CVOTER).

On Delhi, experts say Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) replaced the NOTA option.

“In Delhi, I think the kind of desire for change was channelised through AAP. So we have a small percentage of NOTA in Delhi,” Datta said.

“This was expected, especially because protest votes in Delhi went to AAP,” Deshmukh told IANS.

In Delhi, outgoing Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s New Delhi constituency had 435 NOTA votes, while Krishna Nagar, from where the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan contested, saw 577 NOTA votes.

NOTA was introduced for the first time for voters in the five-state elections, following a Supreme Court ruling Sep 27.

IANS