Gujarat Polls: NOTA was the 4th most popular choice
In Gujarat, the NOTA (None Of The Above) option emerged as the fourth preferred 'party' after the BJP, Congress and Independents, polling 1.8% of the total vote share. 5.5L voters in Gujarat went for NOTA, compared to Himachal's 33,000 (0.9% vote share). In fact, it made a difference in 29 out of 182 constituencies. Could Congress have won in its absence?
The people of Gujarat are hard to please
NOTA, which allows voters to reject all candidates in that constituency, was introduced in 2013. Since then, it has exceeded 1.8% only four times- Chhattisgarh (3.1%), MP (1.9%) and Rajasthan (1.9%) in 2013 and Bihar (3.5%) in 2015. Interestingly, it touched 1.8% in Gujarat in the 2014 elections too. In Himachal, even the CPI(M), which won one seat, got more votes (1.4%) than NOTA.
Over half the 182 constituencies recorded NOTA votes in thousands
Of 182 constituencies, almost 100 recorded over 3,000 NOTA votes; 16 constituencies had more than 5,000 NOTA votes. The maximum - 6,461 - was recorded in Danta. Jetpur followed close behind with 6,155 NOTA votes. There were 3,309 votes in CM Vijay Rupani's Rajkot West constituency. In Vadgam, where Independent Jignesh Mevani debuted and won, 4,255 voters went for NOTA.
But it made a difference in these 29 seats
In 29 constituencies, the winning margin was less than NOTA, including Porbandar, where BJP's Babubhai Bokhiriya won by 1,855 votes; NOTA had 3,433. BJP's CK Raulji (Godhra) won by 258 votes (NOTA 3,050); BJP's Bhupendrasinh Manubha Chudasama (Dholka) by 327 votes (NOTA 2,347) and Congress' Rathva Sukhrambhai Hariyabhai by 3,152 (NOTA 6,155). However, 13 of these seats were won by Congress; BJP won 15.
NOTA polled more than 2.5 times AAP's total votes
In fact, NOTA got 2.5 times more votes than AAP got overall (29,517) in the 29 seats it contested. Here, NOTA was used 75,880 times. AAP got more votes than NOTA (1,693) in just one seat, Katargam (4,135). In Chhota Udaipur, where it got the maximum votes (4,551), NOTA got 5,870. NOTA received more votes than what NCP and BSP polled individually too.
What does this mean?
This could be an expression of anger against the ruling BJP, which secured a win by a significantly less margin than 2012. However, it is noteworthy that in 2014, when 1.8% Gujaratis went for NOTA, the Modi wave was at a peak.