Even as the poll results in Gujarat went in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party, there are set of numbers which may be indicative of the people anger at the saffon party over GST, demonitisation and other governance issues in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state.
Over 5.5 lakh voters chose to opt the NOTA option on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the state.
The BJP had to settle for a reduced margin of 99 seats as compared to the 116 seats which it won in 2012. Now, how does the number of NOTA voters create an impact beyond the Election Commission of India's (ECI) data?
Reports have said that many traders and small businessmen in the state had their concerns over GST and memonetisation, introduced by the BJP government. In addition there was simmering discontent among the Dalit, Patidar and other communities over reservations and jobs.
In 16 constituencies where BJP candidates lost narrowly, NOTA may have played a critical role. Here the majority if the NOTA votes had gone to the BJP, its candidates would have won. These constituencies are: Gandhinagar north, Gandhinagar south, Dabhoi, Chota Udaipur, Dangs, Dasada, Deodar, Dhanera, Jamjodhpur, Kaprada, Mansa, Modasa, Morbi, Morva Hadaf, Sojitra, Talaja, Wankaner and Lunawada. They can be checked on the Election Commission website Here.
Here is a slideshow of few constituencies from the 16 (NOTA indicated by a red mark on the bottom right corner of every screenshot)
Meanwhile, the BJP has been mulling over the choice of the new chief minister of Gujarat. Although Vijay Rupani is the incumbent CM, some sources said that the party may be considering Smriti Irani for the post. This will reportedly cater to the BJP's agenda of a strong leader who will connect with the public and work on fullfilling the BJP's electoral promises in the state. Irani has denied that she is a contender.
However NOTA observers all over India took it to the microblogging site Twitter as they shared their views. Here are a set of tweets:
5 lakh NOTA!!??.. Lot of voters angry with BJP but didn't want to vote for Congress, so went for NOTA!— Sara Ali Khan (@SaraKhanWorld) December 18, 2017
NOTA helped Congress win additional 16 seats which could have gone to BJP. ?
Nearly 5.52L votes for NOTA ? Guess they are mostly people who were disappointed with BJP but are reluctant to vote for Congress.— Neeraj Kumar (@NeerajK_G) December 18, 2017
Well it seems that 49 percent of the voters were happy to vote the BJP back to power for the sixth time in Gujarat, yet there is a 'but' here. The Congress has shown a marked improvement in the state. This is likely the message the people are trying to convey to the BJP -- the Gujarat model of development has to be dealt with even more steadiness.