NOTA Worry In South

As the twin polling for the Lok Sabha and Odisha Legislative Assembly set to begin on Thursday morning, the candidates of three major parties- Congress BJD and BJP, are worried over the per cent of votes under NOTA (none of the above) category.

The candidates in Odisha’s Nabarangpur Lok Sabha segment and seven Assembly constituencies under it, are particularly worried because of the high rate of NOTA votes in the 2014 elections.

Nabarangpur Lok Sabha constituency recorded 44,408 votes, highest number under NOTA in 2014 polls while the Congress candidate Pradeep Majhi lost the polls by only 2042 votes.

Therefore, the NOTA votes mostly decided fate of Pradeep Majhi as his BJD rival Balabhadra Majhi won the seat in 2014.

The high rate of NOTA votes is attributed to the high level of illiteracy in Nabarangpur district. The literacy rate of Nabarangpur is only 37.22 per cent as per the 2011 census.

Similarly, another Lok Sabha seat going to poll on Thursday is Koraput which recorded 33,232 NOTA votes. BJD’s Jhinna Hikaka won the seat and defeated his Congress rival by 19,328. Which is also less than NOTA votes. The district’s literacy rate in just 38.95 per cent.

Similarly, Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat also recorded 20,880 NOTA votes in the previous elections. Here the NOTA vote was however less than the winning margin of 56347 votes.
In Berhampur, where the polling will take place on Thursday also resgistered  12,706  NOTA votes.

NOTA was introduced in India following the 2013 Supreme Court directive in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India judgment.  India is the 14th country to institute negative voting.

However, NOTA in India does not provide for a ‘right to reject’. The candidate with the maximum votes wins the election irrespective of the number of NOTA votes polled.

NOTA button saw its debut in the 2013 Assembly elections held in four States — Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and the former Union Territory, Delhi.

The average NOTA vote share dropped to 0.95% in the 2014 Assembly elections held in eight States — Haryana, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra.

It increased to 2.02% in the 2015 Assembly elections held in Delhi and Bihar. While Delhi polled a mere 0.40%, Bihar saw 2.49% of NOTA votes, which remains the highest NOTA votes polled so far in any State in Assembly elections.

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