It is now coming to light that as expected the NOTA (none of the above) option did indeed prove to be a damper for a few in the fray. Shahnawaz Hussain, the most recognised Muslim face for the BJP, seems to have become one of its first high profile victims.
Touted as the official tool for voters to express their disapproval of the candidates put up by political parties, NOTA votes actually made a difference for Hussain, who lost the elections to RJD candidate Shailesh Kumar alias Bulo Mandal.
In Bihar’s Bhagalpur constituency, BJP’s Hussain with 358138 offered a tough fight to Mandal who secured 367623 votes. For Hussain, who lost the seat by 9,845 votes, the 11,875 NOTA votes probably played the spoilsport. If these many votes would have been cast in Hussain’s favour, the BJP’s spokesperson could have saved the tightly-contested elections this time too.
Shahnawaz had won the seat comfortably as an NDA candidate in 2009.
NOTA was introduced in this Lok Sabha elections after the Assembly elections late last year. It was implemented after the Supreme Court gave a path-breaking verdict last September giving voters the Right to Reject all candidates contesting polls in a constituency by exercising the NOTA option.
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Around 60 lakh voters opted for NOTA this time, more than the votes secured by 21 parties. This is around 1.1 per cent of the total votes polled during these elections across 543 seats.