NOTA sealed the fate of many candidates in Gujarat elections

About 1.8% of total electorate chose 'none of the above'; option helped 16 BJP legislators

NOTA sealed the fate of many candidates in Gujarat elections

There's many a slip twixt cup and lip. And who knows it better than the BJP and Congress candidates who just scraped through the Gujarat Assembly elections!

A close look at the results suggest that 33 out of the 182 winning candidates won with a margin of less than 5,000 votes. What adds to BJP's scare is that 16 of these winners are from the party. In fact, all of them won by a margin of less than 3,000 votes. The Congress, too, accounts for 16 such winners while one is an independent.

And what aided the victory of many key candidates was the NOTA (none of the above) option preferred by the electorate in many of these constituencies. NOTA was the preferred choice of over 5,51,000 voters - roughly 1.8% of the total electorate that cast votes in the elections.

This assumes significance for the saffron party, considering that seven ministers from the Vijay Rupani government and 27 sitting legislators could not even make it to the winners' podium, reducing the total tally of the BJP to the lowest it has seen in over two decades. In 2012, it had won 115 seats. This time, it got stuck in the nervous 90s, winning 99 of the 182 seats in Gujarat Assembly.

The narrow-margin seats could have swung either way and changed the fate of many. The case in point is, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama from Dholka, one of the senior-most ministers in Rupani government. Chudasama won over his nearest Congress rival by a margin of just 327 votes. As many as 2,347 voters opted for NOTA in this constituency.

Sitting Godhra legislator and Congress turncoat C K Raulji won with a margin of 258 votes. A total of 3,050 voters pressed the NOTA button here.

Similarly, former senior minister in Narendra Modi and Anandiben Patel governments, Saurabh Patel, won by just 906 votes against Congress candidate Dhiraj Kalathia from Botad constituency in the Saurashtra region. Here, 1,334 people opted for NOTA.

On the other hand, minister of state in Keshaji Chauhan fell short of 972 votes and suffered defeat at the hands of Congress' Shiva Bhuriya. The NOTA stood third in the constituency with 2,988 votes.

The NOTA also kept some chief ministerial candidates of the Congress at bay. Arjun Modhvadia lost to BJP rival Babu Bokhiria by a margin of 1,855 votes. NOTA votes accounted for 3,433 votes here.

Siddharth Patel, the other Congress chief ministerial candidate, was trounced in Dabhoi by a margin of 2,839 votes. NOTA polled 3,046 votes here.

The thinnest victory margin in the polls came from Kaparada constituency in Valsad district of South Gujarat, where Congress candidate Jitu Chaudhary - who polled 93,000 votes - won by a margin of 170 votes. His BJP rival Madhu Raut got 92,830 votes while NOTA clocked 3,868 votes, which is higher than what the other three candidates fighting BJP and Congress polled.

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