Assembly poll with NOTA in state for first time

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 02 Oktober 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: October 15 will see the first assembly poll in the state with the none-of-the-above (NOTA) option, which was the fifth largest vote-catcher here. This time, the Election Commission expects the number to grow with many candidates in the fray. With 521 candidates in the fray after the last date for withdrawal of nominations in Mumbai's 36 assembly constituencies, there will be around 10 such constituencies where the option will still be on the second ballot unit. A ballot unit can accommodate only 15 candidates but at these 10 constituencies, the number of candidates go beyond 15, forcing the election machinery to add another ballot unit which will have the option.

The option, made available to voters for the first time during the recent Lok Sabha polls, had obtained the fifth largest vote share in Mumbai after the Shiv Sena-BJP, Congress-NCP, MNS and AAP.

In the state, its vote share stood at 8th position after the MNS and Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), if the Sena-BJP's alliance with smaller parties is to be treated as one unit, as is the Congress's alliance with NCP. This 8th rank was among a total of 62 parties which fought the 2014 general elections.

"This means that a sizeable number of Mumbaikars had not liked the candidates put up by parties for the Lok Sabha polls. Now with many parities in the fray, there are more chances of a greater number of people opting for NOTA," said sources close to the EC.

According to experts, NOTA took a chunk of votes which used to go to smaller parties during the recent Lok Sabha polls.

Voters who have chosen this option, considered educated because of their awareness about the option, appear to have rejected even AAP candidates who were considered relatively more educated than those belonging to other parties in the state.

Of the total 50.54 lakh valid votes registered in the six constituencies of Mumbai, NOTA received 52,952, that is, almost 1.04% of total votes polled. Against NOTA's 0.90% vote share in the state, its vote share in Mumbai was on the higher side, which, sources said, was ample evidence of Mumbaikars' displeasure with the candidates from different parties.

This, said experts with the state electoral wing, could also be the impact of the Election Commission's campaign urging people to know the educational, financial and criminal background of candidates before casting their vote.

Interestingly, Palghar and Thane in the Mumbai region got the highest number of NOTA votes.

Of the 4.8 crore valid votes polled in the state, 4.3 lakh were in favour of the NOTA option.

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