Completely swept away by an unprecedented Modi wave, Gujarat saw over 4.4 lakh NOTA (none of the above) votes being cast in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with the three reserved tribal seats clocking a maximum of such votes cast, rejecting all the candidates in fray.
Dahod, a reserved tribal seat, which is one of the eight LS seats that falls on the Purva-patti or the eastern tribal belt of the state recorded over 32,000 NOTA votes, the highest in Gujarat. The neighbouring constituency of Chotta Udaepur (ST) came second with over 28,800 voters, followed by Valsad (ST) with over 26,500 votes.
In all the three constituencies, the poll battle was largely between the same candidates who fought the 2009 elections. For instance, on the Chotta Udaepur seat, sitting BJP MP Ramsinh Rathwa was taking on the Congress rival Naran Rathwa. Both these candidates had contested against each other five years ago.
Gujarat saw over 4.4 lakh NOTA votes, which were 1.8 per cent of the total votes cast in the state. The NOTA vote-share was higher than those clocked by parties like AAP (1.2%), NCP (1%), BSP (0.9%) and JD(U) (0.4%). The percentage of NOTA votes cast in Gujarat stood higher than the national average of 1.1 per cent.
“This is the first time NOTA is being introduced and most educated urban voters are yet to fully understand its role. So, such a trend in tribal areas is surprising and seems to be mostly a result of lack of awareness or cases of listless voters,” stated Professor P M Patel, a political analyst and a faculty in political science department of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.
Vadodara, the constituency from where BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi registered a phenomenal victory by 5.7 lakh votes also saw over 18,000 NOTA votes being cast.
Other Lok Sabha seats located on the tribal belt of Gujarat like Bharuch (23,600 votes) and Sabarkantha (21,500) and Bardoli (17,700) also saw significantly higher number of NOTA votes being cast.
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