NOTA thwarts Congress' chance to become principal Opposition in 17th Lok Sabha

A closer look at the results reveals that NOTA received as many as 65 lakh votes, with the highest being in Bihar with  8,17,139 votes and the lowest in Lakshadweep with 100 votes.

Published: 26th May 2019 04:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th May 2019 11:48 AM   |  A+A-

Congress President Rahul Gandhi with senior party leader Sonia Gandhi and KC Venugopal at the Congress Working Committee CWC meeting in New Delhi Saturday May 25 2019. | PTI

Express News Service

CHENNAI: For the second consecutive election, Congress has lost the opportunity to become the principal opposition party.

However, if that party had got a small share of NOTA (None of The Above) votes in its favour in four constituencies, its leader could have had the opportunity of becoming the Leader of the Opposition.

A closer look at the results reveals that NOTA received as many as 65 lakh votes, with the highest being in Bihar with  8,17,139 votes and the lowest in Lakshadweep with 100 votes, according to the Election Commission website.

In as many as 21 seats, the victory margin is less than the number of votes for NOTA.

These include four seats in West Bengal, three each in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, two seats each in Telangana and Odisha and one seats each in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Andaman and Nicobar islands.

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In four of these seats, Congress was on the losing side. In Kanker constituency in Chhattisgarh, Congress candidate, Biresh Thakur lost to Mohan Mandavi of BJP in a margin of 6,914  votes. While the NOTA registered 26,692 votes.

In Khunti in Jharkhand, Congress candidate, Kali Charan Munda lost to BJP candidate, Arjun Munda with a margin of 1,445 votes. There were 21,236 NOTA votes.

In Charamarajanagar, Karnataka, Congress candidate, R Dhruvanarayana lost to BJP candidate, V Srinivas Prasad in a margin of 1,817 votes. The constituency registered 12,706 NOTA votes. 

In Zahirabad constituency, Telangana, Madan Mohan Rao of Congress lost to B B Patil of TRS with a margin of 6,229 votes. NOTA votes were 11,138.

As per rules, an Opposition party can claim to have a Leader of Opposition in any of the Houses provided the party has won 10 per cent of the seats.

In the case of Lok Sabha, which is a 543-member house, the party needs to have 55 elected members.

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The patronage for NOTA introduced in 2013, to help voters to convey their dissatisfaction with all the contesting candidates, continues to have patronage across the country.

In Tamil Nadu, in the current Lok Sabha elections, 1.28 per cent – i.e., 5,41,150 voters opted for NOTA.

In 2014, Lok Sabha elections, 5.7 lakh voters opted for NOTA. 

In 2016 Assembly elections, 1.30 per cent of voters in Tamil Nadu opted for NOTA. During the 2011 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, as many as 24,591 voters opted for 49-O option (zero vote or negative vote) to declare that they did not like any of the candidates in the fray.  

In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 18,162 voters opted for Zero Vote.

In 2013,  the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to provide a separate button for NOTA in the Electronic Voting Machines. It was first introduced in Tamil Nadu during the Yercaud by-election.

Interestingly, in December 2017, NOTA facility pushed the BJP to the sixth place in the by-election to RK Nagar Assembly constituency.

What rules say

As per rules, an Opposition party can claim to have a Leader of Opposition in any of the Houses provided the party has won 10 per cent of the seats.

In the case of Lok Sabha, which is a 543-member house, the party needs to have 55 elected members.

In Tamil Nadu, in the current Lok Sabha elections, 1.28% voters opted for NOTA.

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