The Telegraph
Thursday , May 22 , 2014
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Nota whip on graft sets off alarm

Patna, May 21: Use of the Nota (none of the above) button in most parliamentary constituencies of Bihar has set off alarm bells in parties that chose to field tainted candidates.

The option, which made its debut in Bihar this general election, clicked with a little over 5.81 lakh voters during the six-phase polls in the state.

Across the state, the Samastipur Lok Sabha constituency recorded the highest Nota votes with 29,211 electors pressing the button.

Ram Chandra Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party clinched the Samastipur seat.

Statistics available with the state election department revealed that 15 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar witnessed more than 10,000 Nota voters, hinting at the degree of anger and resentment among the people against the contestants.

“The use of the Nota by a large number of voters is a clear indication that they would not accept any candidate fielded by the political parties,” said G.M. Mishra, a 45-year-old voter in the Ujiarpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Bacchu Kumar Singh, 54, an employee of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur, said the introduction of Nota would now force parties to select candidates with a clean image and avoid fielding those involved in corruption and scams.

“With the introduction of Nota, the political parties would try to mend their ways,” he added.

Rajiv Kumar Singh, a postgraduate student of Patna University, however, didn’t agree. He said although the 30 candidates fielded by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Bihar did not have any criminal background, they registered less number of votes than Nota across the 40 constituencies.

If the statement of Braj Kishore Singh, a retired teacher of political science of Magadh University, Bodhgaya, was to be believed, more voters would opt for Nota option in coming elections. “The voters, instead of boycotting the polls on local issues like roads, electricity, drinking water and irrigational facilities, would now opt for Nota,” he said.

The Nota, also known as “against all” or a “scratch” vote, made its Lok Sabha poll debut this year. The Election Commission had introduced it as an option on the electronic voting machine last year.

“The commission even launched programmes to create awareness among the voters about the use of Nota in both the urban and rural areas,” a senior official in the state election departm- ent said.

The official added that the Nota option would give the voters a chance to discard candidates. “It’s not necessary that all the candidates fielded by the political parties would be accepted by all the electors,” he told The Telegraph.

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