The constituencies that recently went to bypolls in Madhya Pradesh had an unexpected runner-up. NOTA (None of The Above) was the third most-polled option in two Assembly constituencies while in one seat, it was the fourth most-voted alternative.
In the tribal-dominated Jobat constituency, where the BJP’s Sulochana Rawat defeated Congress’ Mahesh Patel by a margin of 6,104 votes, 5,603 votes were cast on NOTA.
In the Prithvipur constituency, NOTA finished at the third spot with 1,741 votes. In Raigaon, NOTA finished fourth with 1,436 votes while in Khandwa, it came in a distant fifth with 13,627 votes.
The results have set alarm bells ringing for both the ruling party and the Opposition.
“The election results show that people of Madhya Pradesh are tired of the BJP. But the vote for NOTA is a matter of concern for Congress, too. We will review the results and work accordingly,” former minister and senior Congress leader Jitu Patwari said.
“There is a need for public awareness on this. Every person should keep his view very clear in the matter of handing over political representation. Voters have the right to choose NOTA but during the bypolls – whether it was against or for the government – it is a question mark,” said senior BJP leader and Cabinet minister Vishwas Sarang.
In the 2018 elections, votes cast in favour of NOTA were more than the victory margin in 22 Assembly constituencies. NOTA even outperformed some of the parties like AAP and Samajwadi Party, getting more votes across the state than them. The number of NOTA votes point to Madhya Pradesh’s bipolar polity that faces a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress.