‘No contest’ to NOTA: Indore scripts electoral history in 2024 Lok Sabha election

After its candidate withdrew from the election and joined the BJP, the Congress had encouraged voters to press NOTA.

Published : Jun 06, 2024 20:07 IST - 4 MINS READ

NOTA polls over two lakh votes in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore Lok Sabha constituency.

NOTA polls over two lakh votes in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore Lok Sabha constituency. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Indore on June 4 rewrote history by registering the highest-ever NOTA votes in the country at 2,18,674, overtaking a record posted by Bihar’s Gopalganj in 2019, while the BJP candidate Shankar Lalwani won the Lok Sabha election from the seat in Madhya Pradesh by a staggering margin of 11,75,092 votes.

All 13 candidates in the fray in Indore against Lalwani, who won by potentially record margin votes, lost their security deposit, indicating they were clearly rejected by the voters. If a candidate gets fewer than one-sixth of the total valid votes cast in a constituency, their security deposit is seized by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

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The NOTA (none of the above) option garnered 16.28 per cent of the total vote cast in the Indore Lok Sabha seat. Sitting MP Lalwani’s nearest rival, Sanjay Solanki of the Bahujan Samaj Party, pocketed 51,659 votes.

Call to support NOTA

Notably, the Congress gave a call to support NOTA after its candidate Akshay Kanti Bam withdrew from the election fray at the last moment, a move that forced the opposition party out of the contest from the prestigious seat. Bam later joined the BJP.

The Congress candidate’s decision to withdraw played a major role in the landslide victory of the BJP’s Shankar Lalwani from the Indore Lok Sabha constituency, Madhya Pradesh minister Kailash Vijayvargiya on June 5 said. “I think Lalwani has won by such a big margin that no one can beat his record. The credit for this goes to Bam also. Applaud (for Bam) again,” he said.

A total of 5,33,705 voters pressed the NOTA (none of the above) option nationally, with the highest number of 2,18,674 such votes being registered in the Indore seat alone, Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Anupam Rajan said in a press conference.

On May 13, of the 25.27 lakh eligible voters in Indore, 61.75 per cent exercised their franchise. Of them, 13,43,294 ballots were found valid. Of it, 16.28 per cent of the votes went to NOTA. In 2019, Indore recorded a 69 per cent turnout with 5,045 voters opting for NOTA.

In the last parliamentary election, voters in Bihar’s Gopalganj created a record with 51,660 of them, or 5 per cent, opting for NOTA, which is placed as the last option on the electronic voting machine (EVM). In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, NOTA garnered 46,559 votes in Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu by pocketing nearly 5 per cent of votes cast. The NOTA option was incorporated into the EVM in September 2013 following a Supreme Court verdict. This choice gave voters the option to reject all candidates in the fray.

The BJP has been winning the Indore seat for the last 35 years. Excluding Lalwani, the NOTA option prevailed over the remaining 13 candidates. In all, the defeated candidates managed just 1,16,543 ballots.

In 2019, Lalwani defeated his nearest Congress rival Pankaj Sanghvi by a margin of 5.48 lakh votes. This time, the NOTA supported by Congress did not get even half of the votes that his rival party garnered in 2019, Lalwani said. “This shows the people of Indore have rejected Congress,” he added.

Senior Congress leader Shobha Oza said that the people of Indore have created a record by casting their votes in favour of NOTA and giving a befitting reply to the BJP which, she claimed, considers itself above democracy and the Constitution.

Can NOTA be legally effective?

Former Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat had recently described NOTA as having a “symbolic” impact and said if it gets more than 50 per cent votes in a seat, only then making it legally effective on election results could be considered.

Also Read | Congress fails to get its act together in Madhya Pradesh

Rawat said that if 99 out of 100 votes go in favour of the NOTA option and someone gets one vote, even then the candidate will emerge victorious.

“More than 50 per cent of electors will have to once opt for NOTA in a seat to show the political community that they do not consider candidates with criminal background or other undeserving ones worthy of their votes. Only after this, pressure on Parliament and the Election Commission will increase and they will have to think about changing laws to make NOTA effective on the election results,” he said.

(with inputs from PTI)

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