The recently concluded Haryana and Maharashtra assembly elections once again proved NOTA or none of the above button on the electronic voting machine (EVM) is a powerful barometer of expressing political discontent against powers that be. Voters across India have used NOTA to express their displeasure with the system and Thursday's assembly election results in Maharashtra and Haryana were no different.
In fact, voting pattern in rural Maharashtra indicates a strong trend of voters sending a powerful message to political parties. Consider this: Congress candidate Dhiraj Vilasrao Deshmukh from Latur's closest rival was NOTA with nearly 27 thousand voters or 14 of the total votes polled in the constituency going for it.
Deshmukh managed to secure a little over 1.35 lakh votes or 67 percent of the total polled votes. Shiv Sena candidate Sachin Deshmukh, his main rival, garnered 13,549 votes. Interestingly, the Latur Rural constituency was exchanged by the BJP with Shiv Sena for Ausa seat during the seat-sharing negotiations.
Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi's Manchakrao Done received 12,966 votes to end up at the fourth spot.
For Maharashtra, the total number of NOTA votes in the state were recorded to be at 7,42,134 (1.3 percent of the total votes polled) in 2019, as against over 4 lakh such votes in 2014.
Apart from Latur, Palus Kadegaon recorded 20,631 NOTA votes. The seat has been won by Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam against Sanjay Vibhute from the Sena by a margin of 1,62,521 votes.
In Akkaluwa assembly seat, NOTA secured 4,856 votes. The seat was bagged by Congress candidate KC Padavi who defeated Shiv Sena's Aamshya Fulji by 2,096 votes.
In Haryana, the total number of NOTA votes have been counted to be at 65,672, which is 0.52 percent of the total polled votes.
In several constituencies in Haryana as well, NOTA played the role of spoilsport in narrow victory margins.
in Thanesar, BJP's Subhash Sudha won by a margin of just 842 votes against Congress' Ashok Kumar Arora. NOTA secured 951 votes in this seat.
In Sirsa, controversial leader of the Haryana Lokhit Party Gopal Kanda won by a narrow margin of 602 votes against independent candidate Gokul Setia. NOTA's share was at 579 votes.
In Ratia, 1,086 votes polled in favour of NOTA, while the victory margin between winner BJP's Lakshman Napa over Congress's Jarnail Singh was at 1,216 votes.
In Kaithal, Congress' Randeep Singh Surjewala lost to BJP's Leela Ram by a margin of over 1,246 votes. NOTA secured 561, while independents got around 1,800 votes.
In fact, NOTA has secured more votes than the Aam Aadmi Party in both Haryana (0.48 percent vote share) and Maharashtra (0.11 percent).