Elections

After BJP's Surat Lok Sabha Win, NOTA Debate Takes Over Social Media

BJP's win in Surat Lok Sabha seat before voting taking place there has sparked reactions from Opposition, with some saying people's right to elect their leader was taken away "even if NOTA '[None Of The Above]" would have been their choice.

PTI/File
NOTA, the commonly known acronym for 'None of the above', is one of the options displayed on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), allowing voters to exercise the option of not voting for any poll candidate Photo: PTI/File
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The victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Gujarat's Surat seat in the Lok Sabha elections 2024 has triggered a war of words between the Congress and the saffron party and a social media debate over NOTA (None Of The Above Option), with the former complaining to the poll body alleging that the election of the BJP candidate was done by exerting "wrong and undue influence" and demanding the poll process in the seat be restarted.

Congress claimed the BJP was frightened by the anger of MSME owners and the business community and attempted "match-fixing" even in the Surat Lok Sabha seat which the ruling party has been winning since 1984. Elections 2024 News LIVE Updates

Other opposition leaders also reacted to the Surat Lok Sabha win of BJP, with some saying people's right to elect their leader was taken away "even if NOTA '[None Of The Above]" would have been their choice.

ALSO READ | BJP Wins Unopposed In Surat Lok Sabha Seat; Congress Says 'Attempt To Match-Fix'

Shiv Sena UBT Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, in a message to voters in Surat, said on microblogging platform that she "hopes" they "will feel cheated," even if they were planning to press the NOTA button. She said the rigging of Chandigarh Mayor election, the disqualification of INDIA bloc candidates in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh on ‘flimsy grounds’, the rejection of INDIA candidates in Surat and the pressure to withdraw the candidature of independent candidates are signs of “ending democracy”.

Another user wrote on X, "I have one question regarding Surat , even if all the other candidates were disqualified or withdrew , why polling should not be held as the option of NOTA still exists, how have they declared BJP candidate elected ? Can @ECISVEEP answer?"

"Why Surat election is cancelled and BJP candidate declared winner? If all candidates withdrew except one, still there is NOTA candidate available. Election should be happening with NOTA option," another user wrote.

What is NOTA? How Does It Affect Poll Results?

NOTA, the commonly known acronym for 'None of the above', is one of the options displayed on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), allowing voters to exercise the option of not voting for any poll candidate in the fray in their constituency. Since its introduction, NOTA has survived several political debates concerning its implications on poll results.

Since the day the decision was taken to introduce NOTA, discussions around its possible electoral implications turned it into a highly debatable matter.

According to some, NOTA has zero electoral value in the Indian systems as even if the maximum votes are given in favor of NOTA, the candidate getting the largest number of votes, which could theoretically even be just one, will still be declared the winner.

On the contrary, another theory explains that NOTA vote has a pivotal role to play in the electoral outcome as it cuts votes from the political parties and therefore contributes to the resulting shift in victory margins.

The Surat Lok Sabha Election Result

BJP's Mukesh Dalal was on Monday elected unopposed from Surat as all other candidates withdrew from the fray. The candidature of the Congress' Nilesh Kumbhani was rejected a day earlier after the district returning officer prima facie found discrepancies in the signature of the proposers.

Voting for all 26 constituencies in Gujarat is scheduled for May 7, but with the result of Surat seat already out, polling will be held on 25 seats.

A delegation of Congress leaders met the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners and demanded that the election process in Surat be restarted as "wrong and undue influence" was being exerted.

"We have therefore requested the Election Commission to postpone the election in Surat and redo the election shorty to send a clear message that you cannot take advantage of this kind of wrong undue influence," Congres spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters after meeting the ECs.

Taking a swipe at the BJP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "The dictator's 'asli surat' (true face) is once again bared in front of the country."

"Taking away the people's right to elect their leader is another step towards destroying the Constitution of Babasaheb Ambedkar. I am once again saying - this is not just an election to form a government, this is an election to save the country, this is an election to protect the Constitution," he said in Hindi in a post on X.

Gujarat unit BJP president C R Paatil in a post on X said, "Surat has presented the first Lotus to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I congratulate our candidate for the Surat Lok Sabha seat Mukesh Dalal for getting elected unopposed."

In the 2019 polls, BJP won all 26 constituencies in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

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