Bhopal: The option marked None Of The Above (NOTA) may play a crucial role in the upcoming bypolls for 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh on November 3. NOTA had marked itself out as a spoiler in the 2018 assembly elections in the state.
In 2018, NOTA affected results in 22 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh where its tally was greater than the victory margin. Of the 22 seats, twelve were won by the Congress, nine by the BJP – including four ministers – and one by an independent candidate.
In the upcoming bye-elections, out of 28 seats, five assembly seats which are going to polls are of particular interest. In three seats – Suwasara in Mandsaur, Mandhata in Khandwa and Nepanagar in Burhanpur district – NOTA got more votes than the victory margin, while in two seats – Agar in Agar Malwa and Sanwer in Indore district – the victory margin within 500 votes of NOTA.
Out of these five constituencies, the Congress had won in four seats, while BJP won the Agar seat. Four seats where the BJP lost by a margin less than the NOTA votes were: Suwasara (NOTA – 2,976, victory margin – 350), Mandhata (NOTA – 1,575, victory margin –1,236), Nepanagar (NOTA – 2,551, victory margin – 1,264) and Sanwer (NOTA – 2,591, victory margin – 2,945).
Seats where the victory margin was either lesser than NOTA, or close, in 2018:
The margins are crucial as as even a single seat could cost both, the BJP and Congress, dearly, just like in the 2018 assembly elections. A few days ago, state Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who also won with a close margin in the previous election, opined that unlike 2018, the NOTA option would not affect the BJP’s fate this time as each and every party worker was toiling hard to convert the NOTA votes into their favour. The Congress claimed the same.
In the 2018 elections, the Congress won 114 seats in 230-member assembly, two short of the majority mark, with the BJP winning 109 seats. NOTA had played spoilsport for both the parties.
NOTA polled 1.42 per cent of the total vote in the 2018 state assembly elections. As many as 5,42,295 voters cast their votes in favour of no candidate in particular. NOTA even outperformed some of the major parties, including the Samajwadi Party which polled 1.30 per cent of the vote. The Aam Aadmi Party got 0.66 per cent of the voteshare and the Sapaks India Party managed to get 0.41 per cent of the votes in the elections.
In Damoh, Finance Minister and BJP candidate, Jayant Kumar Malaiya, lost to his Congress rival by a margin of 798 votes, with NOTA polling 1,299 votes. Another BJP minister, Archana Chitnis, lost in Burhanpur to independent candidate Surendra Singh by 5,120 votes. Again, 5,726 votes went to NOTA.
Ministers Sharad Jain – BJP candidate from Jabalpur North assembly seat – and Narayan Singh Kushwaha from Gwalior East, met the same fate. Jain lost by 578 votes with NOTA bagging 1,209 votes. Kushwaha lost by 121 votes just as NOTA polled 1,550 votes.
Ever since the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) has been introduced to the EVMs in 2015, there has been considerable interest on the number of votes polled for NOTA in every election. This time around, both parties are trying hard to ensure that NOTA does not come in the way of a victory, especially in the three assembly constituencies where the victory margin was less than NOTA.