While fewer people pressed the None of the Above (NOTA) button in Rajasthan this year, 14 out of 15 Assembly seats that received the highest NOTA votes are reserved constituencies. In the top-25 list of NOTA votes, 20 are reserved seats.
Samta Andolan Samiti, among other organisations, had campaigned in some reserved constituencies and asked people to opt for NOTA to help “end caste-based reservation”. According to the Samiti, caste-based quota is leading to a growing animosity between people of different castes.
While Parashar Narayan Sharma, the outfit’s president, claimed that the voting trend in these seats “indicates that people want those seats to be unreserved”, overall, NOTA votes registered a decline in the state — from 1.91 per cent in 2013 to 1.33 per cent this time.
The samiti had fielded 17 candidates on the symbol of a little-known Bhartiya Rashtravadi Samanta Party (BRSP), and there was no overlap between the 15 seats that received most NOTA votes and these 17. “We had asked people to press NOTA in seats which we could not contest,” Sharma said.
Rajasthan has 59 reserved seats — 34 for Scheduled Castes and 25 for Scheduled Tribes — and the outfit had launched a “Mission 59” to win or influence voting in these constituencies.
None but two of the Samiti’s candidates managed to poll more than a thousand votes.
In the results declared on Tuesday, most NOTA votes were recorded in Kushalgarh (ST), where 11,002, or 5.58 per cent of total votes cast, were cornered by NOTA. Jhadol (ST) recorded 7,457 NOTA votes (3.81 per cent), and Reodar (SC) 6,108 (3.46 per cent).
All 14 seats are in Rajasthan’s southern belt, especially Mewar: Udaipur and Dungarpur (3 each), Sirohi and Banswara (2 each) and Pratapgarh, Jalore and Barmer (1 each).