KOCHI: As a neck-and-neck battle is on the cards in several constituencies, a question is in the air: Will NOTA (None of the Above) play a crucial role in deciding the winners?
The alleged internal feud in the CPM in Kannur and Alappuzha districts and the absence of NDA candidates in assembly segments like Guruvayoor and Thalassery, following the rejection of nomination papers, had opened up the possibility of a considerable increase in NOTA’s vote share. However, political analysts say the option may not make an impact in a state with a high political literacy.
In the 2016 polls, 1,07,239 voters rejected the listed candidates, pressing the NOTA button on the EVM (electronic voting machine). NOTA has garnered only 0.5 per cent of the total votes polled in the state, observers point out.
“NOTA won’t become a decisive factor in Kerala. But there is a chance for its vote share rising in some constituencies in Kannur and Alappuzha districts following the rift within CPM. A few hard-core workers may choose the option in protest against the party stand there,” said J Prabhash, a political analyst.
Last elections, more than 1,000 NOTA votes were polled in 26 constituencies. Interestingly, the lowest number of NOTA votes were polled in Poonjar — 313 — where P C George, an independent recorded a stunning win against the three fronts. The highest number of NOTA votes were polled in Kaduthuruthi (1,533), followed by Thiruvananthapuram (1,453), Mattannur (1,420), Thrikkakara (1,275) and Attingal (1,267).
The 2019 Lok Sabha polls witnessed a considerable dip in NOTA votes compared to 2014. From 2,10,563, NOTA votes came down to 1,02,460, a difference of 1,08,103 votes, according to Election Commission’s figures. D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Kochi-based Centre for Public Policy Research, said some voters preferred the NOTA to express their anger as they had only two options earlier— the UDF and the LDF. “Now there is an alternative, a third front under the BJP, and people will never choose NOTA,” he said. He said NOTA will get votes in Kannur and Alappuzha where CPM is facing internal issues.
“The young voters have their own choices and stances and they would never cast their votes in favour of NOTA. However, veterans may choose this option as they cannot vote for any party other than the one which they have traditionally vote for over the years,” he said.NOTA votes had played a decisive role in Kannur and Vadakara seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, as they exceeded the winning margin.