NOTA beats Shiv Sena to come second in Latur Rural

Last Updated 24 October 2019, 15:10 IST

NOTA or 'None of the Above' has created a record this time by becoming the nearest rival of a candidate in an election in India!

It was in Latur Rural Assembly constituency in Maharashtra where the voters chose NOTA as the runner up while Congress' Dhiraj Vilasrao Deshmukh, the son of former Congress Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, won grabbing around 68% or 1.35 lakh votes.

NOTA got 27,449 votes, which was more than double of Shiv Sena's Sachin Deshmukh, who came third. Sachin managed to get 13,459 votes. Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi's Done Manchakrao Baliram polled 12,775.

There were 15 candidates including Dhiraj. All the other 14 candidates lost the deposit and they all together could manage 36,552 votes. Last time, Congress candidate had won the seat by a margin of just over 10,000 votes.

One of the reasons for Sena candidate getting fewer votes may be due to BJP's decision to hand over the seat to its ally. Traditionally, BJP used to contest this seat and leaving the seat for Sena might have prompted disgruntled saffron party workers to click NOTA on the EVMs.

However, in the adjoining Latur City constituency, where Dhiraj's brother Amit contested, saw very low NOTA votes at 710 or 0.34%. Amit also won the seat

A study by researcher Garima Goel, which was published recently in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) in the second half of 2018, had sought to debunk the perception that urban elites press the 'NOTA' button more than anyone in the country.

"NOTA votes increase as constituencies get more rural and less literate. On average, seats reserved for the STs tend to record more NOTA votes than those reserved for SC, followed by unreserved seats. Together, these findings paint a picture of marginality and raise questions on the urban high educated profile popularly associated with NOTA voting," the study had said.

In Maharashtra, over 7.37 lakh votes were for NOTA, which was around 1.35% of the total votes cast. However, in Haryana, which also went to Assembly polls, the NOTA votes were around 0.53% (over 65,000 votes).

In comparison to the Assembly polls in five states -- UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur -- in March 2017, only around 9.34 lakh voters felt that none of the over 6,500 candidates was worth their vote. Of this, UP had 7,56. lakh NOTA votes in 404 seats.

Responding to his victory, Dhiraj said, "I am overwhelmed with the love and support of my people. This journey and this victory would not have been possible without their love and support at every step of the way. Their love for late Vilasrao Deshmukh Saheb and our family is overwhelming. I hope to deliver on the expectations my voters have of me and bring about change and prosperity for my farmers and the families of Latur."

(Published 24 October 2019, 14:57 IST)

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