Chinchwad constituency saw the highest number of None of The Above (NOTA) votes in Pune district in the recent Assembly election, with 5,874 voters (2.11 per cent) opting for it. It was the third-most preferred option in the constituency, where BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap retained his seat and Rahul Kalate, a Shiv Sena rebel and Independent candidate, came second.
Bhosari, another constituency in Pimpri-Chinchwad, also saw a large number of NOTA votes at 3,636, which is 1.38 per cent of the total. Political analysts said the trend of choosing NOTA was becoming increasingly popular among urban voters. On why Pimpri-Chinchwad constituencies may have seen such a high number of NOTA votes, local residents said issues such as excessive unplanned and unchecked development in the town, which had hampered the growth of the township, may have influenced voters.
“The prominent candidates have not done anything to curtail the haphazard development in the area. Traffic, road and water issues have only worsened in the locality…” said septuagenarian Sudhakar Mande from Chinchwadgaon.
Local residents also cited the “absence” of candidates in the constituency in the last five years as another reason why many voters could not find a ‘’local connect” with sitting MLA Jagtap. “The area has grown to a great extent and as a result, the cost of living has also skyrocketed. But what is the use of such development when living standards have not improved?” said Soudamini Pote, who lives in Premlok Park locality.
Political analysts pointed out that the NOTA vote share in each of the 11 Assembly constituencies in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad was close to two per cent, and said this was a worrying trend for political parties.
In Vadgaonsheri seats, NOTA polled 2,400 votes, beating nine Independents. In Daund seat, NOTA polled 904 votes more than 9 Independents. Here, the victory margin was just 663 votes. In Parvati seat, NOTA polled 3,600 votes, beating eight Independents.