NOTA played spoilsport for many

Anvita Srivastava
Sunday, 26 May 2019

Interestingly, NOTA votes in this constituency were 4,929 which is only 96 votes less of the winning margin.

Pune: In Aurangabad Parliamentary constituency, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) candidate Imtiaz Jaleel won the election by 5,025 votes against Shiv Sena candidate Chandrakant Khaire. Jaleel got 3,88,784 votes against Khaire who got 3,83,759 votes. 

Interestingly, NOTA (None of the above) votes in this constituency were 4,929 which is only 96 votes less of the winning margin.

Political analyst and former journalism professor from Aurangabad University Jaidev Dole said that it is surprising to find out how more than 4,000 people opted for NOTA in a constituency like Aurangabad which is deeply polarised. Dole said that this is a constituency where voters weigh their options through a political lens. 

Stating that low percentage of NOTA votes do not make an impact, Head of Political Science Department, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Mangesh Kulkarni, said, “This small percentage can make a difference in the constituencies where competition is neck to neck.” 

Kulkarni feels that due to fewer choices, people choose NOTA as the option. He said, “The increasing number of NOTA showed that there is a greater number of voters who are well educated and do not get swayed by false promises or caste politics. It might be that they felt that they do not have choices as they were not happy with the candidates but wanted to exercise their right, so they opted for NOTA.”

Though, the experts feel that choosing NOTA can be attributed to urban middle class mentality or the ones who do have any stake in the political system.

Another political analyst Suhas Kulkarni said that media should strive to know who are opting for NOTA. Adding that he has not done research on this topic, Kulkarni added that voters having no stakes or those believing that they do not have stakes in the existing political system may choose NOTA. “For someone belonging to the minority community, voting for a non-radical person becomes the priority. Similarly, for someone staying in slums, casting vote to someone who promises better living becomes the priority,” he added.  

However, 32-year-old communication specialist and a resident of Hadapsar who opted for NOTA, said that he could not find any right candidate to vote. He said, “I did research on a mobile app and could not find a single candidate without any criminal record. This was one of the most important reasons why I chose not to vote for anyone.”

He further said, “We choose a candidate from our constituency as he promises to solve our problems and represents us in the Parliament but last elections when I voted for a candidate from my constituency, he did not deliver. It was not about my selfish motive but even if there is a little upgradation in others’ lives in my area, I would have voted some candidate. Since I could not find an eligible candidate who will work for my issues, I decided to press NOTA.”

For Raja Narasimhan, a Kalyani Nagar resident, NOTA is a tool which provides an opportunity to show the anger on the political system by exercising your right. He said, “NOTA is nothing but a punching bag. We know it won’t retaliate which means it has no electoral value. For those who are keen on voting to express their anger due to the rot in the current political system, it is a great tool. You fulfil your duty and at the same time convey a strong message to the authorities about your strong displeasure.”

Political analyst Jaidev Dole believes that choosing NOTA can be attributed to urban middle class mentality. He said that the choice of NOTA comes from the attitude of looking down upon the entire system that drives the politics and the candidates who contest an election.

Instead of utilising whatever time available to do research on the candidates contesting election about their qualities and lacuna, people choosing for NOTA are trying to belittle the entire system.

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