Four winners had victory margins lower than NOTAs

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If the demand for banning all candidates of a constituency where the number of None Of the Above (NOTA) votes is higher than the winning margin had been accepted by the Election Commission, there would have been re-election in four assembly segments. For now, four elected MLAs in such constituencies are safe.

All four constituencies — Badami, Kungol, Maski and Aland — fall in North Karnataka region. Siddaramaiah defeated BJP candidate Sreeramulu by 1,696 votes in Badami where 2,007 people opted for NOTA. In Maski, the number of NOTA votes (2,049) is 10 times higher than the winning margin of 203 votes between Congress’ Pratapgouda Patil (winner) and BJP’s Basanagowda Turvihal. In Aland, NOTA votes (1,445) are double than the margin of 697 votes between BJP’s Subhash Guttedar (winner) and Congress’ BR Patil. MLA C S Shivalli retained his Kundgol segment by a margin of 634 votes while 1,032 people chose NOTA.

Interestingly, the margin of victory in Badami where Siddaramaiah defeated BJP heavyweight B Sreeramulu was 1,696 votes and 2,007 voters chose the NOTA option.

Raghavendra Kustagi, convener, Jan Sangram Parishat, who is involved in the ‘Right to Reject’ campaign since 1999, said re-election in a constituency where the margin is lower than NOTA votes, was demanded in 2013 at a national conference on ‘Electoral Reforms and Democratization of Political Process’ in Bengaluru. “We had demanded NOTA option in EVMs.The Election Commission accepted the demand after a Supreme Court order but denied conduct of re-election if NOTA votes are more than the victory margin,” he added.

Organisations like JSP, National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources (NCPNR), Samaj Parivartana Samuday (SPS), India Against Corruption and Grama Ganarajya Vedike (GGV) had conducted voters awareness campaigns in January 2013 in select districts of North and Central Karnataka regions.

Post-2018 elections, IG Pulli, member, NCPNR, said the results show people are alert about NOTA to express their negative feedback. “Though currently it doesn’t have that much power, it’ll emerge as an effective weapon to warn politicians,” he said.

“The Election Commission should take serious note of NOTA. It should fulfil our long-pending demand of barring candidates from elections, at least for a minimum period. It’ll definitely cleanse politic,” said SR Hiremath, founder, SPS.

Source: Economic Times