NOTA ‘outperforms’ over 50% contesting candidates in J&K

Over 21,000 people decline to show faith in politicians

Contestants of mainstream parties among worst performers

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 24: Incredible it may sound but it is a fact that None of the Above (NOTA) option ‘outperformed’ over 50% candidates including those belonging to mainstream political parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), National Panthers Party (NPP) and Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The None of the Above also known as “against all” or a “scratch” vote is an option on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) designed to allow the voters to indicate disapproval of the candidates in the voting system. This option was first used in the Assembly elections in five States in 2013 and thereafter the same was extended to whole of India and since then this option is provided in Assembly as well as Parliamentary elections.
As per the figures of the Election Commission of India (ECI), 79 candidates contested elections from six Lok Sabha seats namely Jammu-Poonch, Kathua-Doda-Udhampur, Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Ladakh. A total of 21724 people declined to show faith in the contesting candidates and pressed NOTA button on the Electronic Voting Machines.
The NOTA received maximum votes in Baramulla Lok Sabha seat (8113) followed by Udhampur (7568) and minimum votes in Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency (922). Out of total 79 contestants, 45 candidates (more than 50%) secured far less votes than the NOTA option, which is considered as major embarrassment for such contestants.
As far as Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency is concerned, a total of 2618 voters refused to show faith in any of the 24 contestants. However, 15 candidates secured votes less than the NOTA option. They are Sushil Kumar of Hindustan Nirman Dal (1281 votes), Syed Aqib Hussain of Independent People’s Party (1723), Gursagar Singh of Navrang Congress Party (1103), Mohd Younis of J&K Pir Panjal Awami Party (1612) and Manish Sahni of Shiv Sena (1192).
Among the independent candidates who failed to get more votes than NOTA are Rajiv Chuni (refugee leader), Tarsem Lal Khullar and Satish Poonchi.
As per the data of the ECI, a total of 7568 voters preferred to cast vote in favour of NOTA instead of contesting candidates in Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary constituency. There were 12 candidates in the fray and seven of them have been outperformed by NOTA. Those who bagged votes less than NOTA are Mohd Ayub of Navrang Congress Party (1673), Meenakshi of Shiv Sena (1660) and five Independents.
In Srinagar Parliamentary constituency a total of 1566 people opted for NOTA and out of total 12 contestants seven bagged votes less than None of the Above. They are Abdul Rashid Ganaie of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (791 votes), Showkat Hussain Khan of Janata Dal United (1250), Abdul Khaliq Bhat of Shiv Sena (578), Nazir Ahmed Lone of Rashtriya Jankranti Party (506), Nazir Ahmed Sofi of Manavadhikar National Party (1507) and two Independents.
The NOTA option was overwhelmingly used in Baramulla Parliamentary constituency where 8113 people pressed this button on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) by rejecting nine contestants. Four candidates—one each of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and Bharatiya Janata Party and two independents secured far less votes than the NOTA. JKNPP candidate bagged 4323 votes while as only 6081 people supported BJP’s Mohd Maqbool War.
As far as Anantnag Parliamentary constituency is concerned, 937 people exercised NOTA option by rejecting the candidates who were in the fray. Out of 18 contestants, 12 failed to receive votes equivalent to that of NOTA. They included Nisar Ahmad Wani of JKNPP (589 votes), Surinder Singh of Pragatishil Samajwadi Party (217), Sanjay Kumar Dhar of Manavadhikar National Party (677 votes).
In Ladakh Parliamentary constituency, 922 people pressed NOTA button on EVMs but none of the contesting candidates received votes less than None of the Above.
Majority of the contestants who have been ‘outperformed’ by the NOTA were aware of the fact that they don’t enjoy public support but still they jumped the fray for the reasons best known to them. Some of them even consider themselves as ‘leaders of the masses’ but the figures of the Election Commission of India have broken their myth.