By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 20: Nearly two lakh voters opted for the none-of-the-above option (NOTA) in the EVMs in the recently concluded Assam assembly elections, apparently indicating that there was not a single candidate of their choice contesting the polls.
According to the Election Commission of India, NOTA received 1,89,080 votes, or 1.1 % of the vote share.
The considerable number of NOTA votes assumes significance from the low margin of victory in some constituencies.
In Borkhola constituency, where BJP's Kishore th defeated Independent Misbahul Islam Laskar by a rrow margin of 42 votes, 1,621 voters had opted for the NOTA option. Similarly, in Abhyapuri South where there was a close three-cornered contest between the AIUDF, Congress and AGP, there were 1,113 NOTA votes. Eventually, AIUDF's Anto Kumar Malo defeated Congress' Chandan Sarkar by a margin of just 191 votes in the seat.
The highest NOTA votes were recorded at Doomdooma - 3,317, followed by Sarupathar (3,212), Sori (3,144), Lahowal (3,039) and Chabua (3,012).
Even in Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's constituency Titabor, 1,726 voters had opted for the option. In Majuli, from where BJP's Sarbanda Sonowal won, 987 voters pressed the NOTA button.
The NOTA button was pressed by over 2,000 voters in many constituencies, including Baithalangso, Behali, Biswath, Bokajan, Bongaigaon, Chapaguri, Dergaon, Dhekiajuli, Dholai, Digboi, Diphu, Duliajan, Guwahati West, Kokrajhar East, Margherita, Panery, Raha, Rangapara, Sadiya, Sidli, Tamulpur, Tingkhong and Udalguri.
NOTA or 'None of the above' is a ballot option that a voter can choose to apply instead of giving their vote to any of the contesting candidates.
In 2009, the Election Commission of India had asked the Supreme Court to offer this option on electoral ballots, but the government had opposed it. In September 2013, the SC ruled that every voter
should have the right to register a 'None Of The Above' vote. From then on, the option has been in the electronic voting machines.
The Election Commission clarified that votes cast as NOTA are counted, but are considered 'invalid votes'. Therefore, votes made to NOTA will not change the outcome of the election.