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For 9,771 Gorkha voters of Mizoram, NOTA isn’t just a new button on the electronic voting machine. It is an opportunity provided by the Election Commission to strengthen their demand for other backward caste or OBC status.
NOTA expands to none of the above, an option for people unhappy with candidates chosen by the political parties to represent them.
The Gorkhas began settling in present-day Mizoram in 1880. They enjoyed backward status when Mizoram was a part of Assam and also after it became a Union
Territory in 1972. Statehood in 1987 made them a ‘general category’ group.
“We merit OBC status as per the Mandal Commission report in 1980. All parties acknowledged our demand when we raised it, but nothing moved beyond promises. That is why we are weighing the NOTA option this time,” said HB Thapa, chairman of the Mizoram Gorkha Joint Action Committee.
The Gorkhas are a classless society in Mizoram and number around 25,000. Their voting strength across 23 of the state’s 40 assembly seats is 9,771.