NOTA gives a tough fight to AAP in many pockets of Kangra

  • Naresh Thakur, Hindustan Times, Dharamsala
  • Updated: May 18, 2014 20:53 IST

The poll battle in Kangra parliamentary constituency may have been one-sided with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Shanta Kumar defeating his nearest rival Congress' Chander Kumar by a margin of over 1.70 lakh votes - a record in this politically significant region.

However, amid the attention focused on the two major political parties, an interesting battle between two other candidates went almost unnoticed. The three major candidates from Kangra were Shanta Kumar, Chander Kumar and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Rajan Sushant.

The none of the above (NOTA) option gave a tough fight to the AAP nominee Rajan Sushant. NOTA, which stood fourth in the list of the total 12 candidates in the fray, was neck and neck with the AAP candidate in five assembly segments of the total 17 comprising Kangra parliamentary constituency.

In backward Churah assembly segment of Chamba district, NOTA polled 496 votes against 443 polled by Sushant.

Other constituencies where it was a tough contest between NOTA and AAP, include Dalhousie, Bhattiyat, Chamba, Nurpur and Jawalamukhi in Kangra district. The difference between NOTA votes and votes polled by Sushant in these constituencies was negligible.

Overall Sushant polled over 21,000 votes, while 8,704 electors in Kangra opted for NOTA. Interestingly, Kangra polled highest number of NOTA vote in the north India which is around 1% of the total votes polled.

In other three constituencies - Shimla, Mandi and Hamipur - sizable number of electors voted in favour of NOTA. While Shimla polled 7,788 NOTA votes, Hamipur polled 6,473 and Mandi 6,191. In total over 29,000 people in the state exercised the NOTA.

The number might seem insignificant and unable to affect the result of any winning or losing candidate, but still these votes showed anger towards the candidates who contested the elections.

Interestingly, NOTA garnered a statewide share of around 1% in this Lok Sabha elections, which is more than the vote share managed by parties such as the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

While major parties in the state do not seem to be worrying about such a huge number of people using NOTA, BJP leader Shanta Kumar in a statement issued here has expressed concern over the trend.

"Such a big number of voters exercising NOTA is a matter of concern. It shows that anger among the people against the political parties is prevailing," said Shanta adding that the BJP workers should reach out to all these disgruntled electors. "If their concerns are right we need to introspect and improve our shortcomings," said Shanta.

The Supreme Court last year had directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to provide the NOTA button in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), with a view to bringing about purity in elections.

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