Indian Express

Candidate ‘lost’, Congress supporters go NOTA way

The predicament of voters on Thursday was best summed up by Dhirendra Singh, the UP spokesperson for the Congress. Tweet This
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Voters on their way to a polling booth in Dalelpur, Noida. (Gajendra Yadav) Voters on their way to a polling booth in Dalelpur, Noida. (Gajendra Yadav)

With Congress ‘losing’ their candidate in Gautam Buddh Nagar to the BJP, those planning to vote for the Congress were left stranded. The party, at the last minute, decided not to support either the BSP or the SP in the constituency.

The Congress was left red-faced after their candidate, Ramesh Chand Tomar, joined the BJP after nominations had been filed and the date for the withdrawal had lapsed.

As a result, the Congress was left without a candidate in the constituency on polling day. And, just a day ahead of polling, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking postponement of polling due to the defection.

The predicament of voters on Thursday was best summed up by Dhirendra Singh, the UP spokesperson for the Congress.

“Workers have been asked to vote according to their zameer (conscience). We will not support any party,” he said.
With no Congress candidate in the fray, party workers were, perhaps, the most confused. Many said they decided to exercise the NOTA option.

Yet others decided to still vote for the Congress. “I voted for the Congress. Even though there’s no candidate, there was a button for the Congress on the EVM. The vote will get cancelled. But I couldn’t bring myself to waste my vote on NOTA,” Shailendra Singh, a Congress worker, said.

The main candidates in the fray were BJP’s Mahesh Sharma, BSP’s Satish Awana, AAP’s K P Singh and SP candidate Narender Bhati.

There were some who switched allegiance last minute. “My family has always voted for the Congress. But this year, we voted differently because we didn’t have a Congress candidate,” Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Sorkha village, said.

While the Congress’s strength in the constituency has been waning, leaders in the party said the defection would possibly aid the SP. “It seems that the SP will benefit the most from Tomar’s defection as there was a lot of anti-incumbency on the sitting BSP MP. In this case, its logical that the anti-BJP votes would go to the SP,” a Congress worker said.

With 61.84 per cent of the total 19.36 lakh electorate exercising its franchise on Thursday, Gautam Buddh Nagar saw an increase of 13 per cent in turnout when compared to 48.54 per cent turnout in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The maximum voting (65.06%) took place in Khurja Assembly segment — the only reserved segment. The urban hub of Noida saw the lowest voter-turnout at 55.4%.

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