BJP may be rejoicing victory in the MP by-elections, but with ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option coming third in the Nepanagar assembly constituency should serve as a wakeup call to the ruling party.
According to observers, this negative voting show many people are not satisfied with any of the candidates or the political parties. Candidates of Republican Party of India (A) and Lok Jan Shakti Party tallied lesser votes than NOTA in Nepanagar.
Though BJP’s Manju Dadu defeated Congress’ Antar Singh Barde by a margin of 42,198 votes, 3,233 people opted for NOTA - about 2 % of the total votes polled in the by-election.
Did demonetisation decision push so many people to opt for NOTA? HT had earlier reported how demonetisation decision hit people, especially farmers, in rural areas. Nearly, 73% of the total voters in Nepanagar are farmers and labourers according to rough estimates.
In Nepanagar, the BJP candidate polled 99,626 votes while her Congress rival got 57,428. Many observers say sympathy factor also a played a role in her victory. The seat had fallen vacant after Dadu’s father Rajendra died in a road accident three months ago.
In Shahdol Lok Sabha by-polls too, 1.39 % (15,066) of the voters opted for NOTA. The BJP’s winning margin dropped compared to the parliamentary elections in 2014. At that time, the winning margin was 2.4 lakh. It came down to about 58,000 votes. BJP’s Gyan Singh polled 4,81,398 votes, while Congress’ Himadri Singh gave him a tough fight by securing 4,21,015.
Social analyst Sachin Jain said NOTA represent dissatisfaction with the political system or the candidates fielded by the parties. “Political scientists should research on what criteria people opt for NOTA. It will help in identifying the factors that are leading to disillusionment among the voters.”
The NOTA option was first used in the assembly elections held in five states in 2013.