Ahmedabad: With Gujarat going to vote on Tuesday, it is not the booth management or the warm weather that political parties and candidates are worrying about.
It is the Nota — None Of The Above — factor which both the BJP and the Congress fear. It can affect the fate of candidates, especially where the fight between the two is very close.
BJP leaders feel that voters who are unhappy with the party, but do not want to vote for the Congress may prefer the Nota option. Congress leaders feel that Nota can snatch away from them voters who are dissatisfied with the ruling party.
Their fear is not baseless. In the 2017 Assembly elections, Nota got more votes in 23 seats, where the victory margin was less than 5,000 votes.
Minister of power Saurabh Patel won from Botad by 906 votes where 1,334 gave their votes to Nota. Minister Bhupe-ndrasinh Chudasama won from Dholaka by 327 votes where Nota notched up 2,347 votes.
Congress candidate Ashwin Rathod, who lost to Mr Chudasama, has filed a petition in the Gujarat high court on another matter, and the case is in court.
Rajkot Rural, Porban-dar, Godhra, Himatnagar and Manasa are the other constituencies where the Nota votes were crucial in deciding the result. The highest number of Nota votes, 6,155, was logged in Danta in north Gujarat.
A total of 5.52 lakh voters chose Nota in 2017, which is higher than the vote tally of the BSP (2.07 lakh votes) and the NCP (1.85 lakh votes). In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, 4.54 lakh voters went with Nota.
Political analyst Shirish Kashikar said, “The margin of victory is comparatively higher in the Lok Sabha elections than in the Assembly elections yet political parties cannot ignore the Nota factor. It can definitely spoil the chances of either side.”
All eyes are on Gujarat because top BJP leaders will be casting their vot-es. While PM Narendra Modi will vote at Nishant Vidyalay in Ranip, Ahmedabad, BJP president Amit Shah will vote in Naranpura. Finance minister Arun Jaitely and party veteran L.K. Advani are registered voters in Ahmedbad and are expected to arrive in the state on Tuesday.
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