Maha polls: NOTA stands second in 2 seats | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Maha polls: NOTA stands second in 2 seats

BySurendra P Gangan and Kailash Korde, Mumbai
Oct 25, 2019 12:49 AM IST

In a first, votes polled under the None Of The Above (NOTA) category were second highest in two constituencies – Latur Rural and Palus Kadegaon. This election, NOTA polled a total of 7.42 lakh votes, 1.35% of the total votes cast.

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In Latur Rural constituency, Dhiraj Deshmukh, the youngest son of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, technically defeated NOTA, which got a record 27,500 votes. This is perhaps the highest number of votes cast under NOTA in the history of state polls. The option got 20,631 votes in Palus Kadegaon in Sangli.

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Voters press NOTA mostly to express anger against the system or out of infighting between two ruling parties at a local level. NGO ‘Save Merit Save Nation’ had made an appeal to affected students and their parents to vote against the BJP, as mark of protest against reservation that affected students from open category in medical admissions. The option got 12,009 votes in Jogeshwari East, which saw seen protests over tree cutting in Aarey Colony, ahead of the polls.

In Latur Rural, disgruntled BJP workers reportedly chose the option to protest the decision of exchange of seat with the Shiv Sena, despite having better presence in the constituency. Similarly, there was anger among Shiv Sena workers against their candidate, Sachin Deshmukh, as he had reportedly withdrawn from the fray. “Ramesh Karad of the BJP was interested to contest and was unhappy with the decision of party’s decision of conceding the seat to the Sena. Similarly, Sena workers were unhappy and this has resulted in the highest number of NOTA votes in the constituency,” said a worker.

In Palus-Kadegaon, Congress’s Vishwajeet Kadam won against NOTA. “It is because of the infighting between the Sena and BJP, and the protest by disgruntled BJP aspirants,” said a Congress leader from the district.

Shubha Shenoy of Save Merit Save Nation said: “It was our way of expressing anger as the reservation was affecting the merit in medical courses. It was against the BJP, but we did not find any other party deserving our vote, so we decided to go for Nota.”

According to activists, the NOTA score could be in response to the messages that were in circulation on WhatsApp groups. Nitin Kubal, a social activist, said, “It was unrest against the ruling party over Aarey and other local issues. They chose NOTA as the Congress candidate was weak,” said Kubal.

Besides Aarey, issues such as PMC Bank, delayed SRA projects and poor infrastructure could have made people pick NOTA. Even in neighbouring Dindoshi and Goregaon constituencies, NOTA polled 3,266 and 4,217 votes, respectively.

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