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In 28 constituencies, NOTA option overtakes 69 candidates’ vote share

Panaji: Votes registered under the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) option this assembly election surpassed those polled by 69 candidates in 28 of the state’s constituencies, including aspirants belonging to established parties.Congress candidate Ramkrishna Jalmi, for instance, polled 429 votes as against 448 votes under NOTA in Priol. Similarly, six MGP candidates in Cortalim, Margao, Fatorda, Curtorim, Quepem and Poriem garnered lesser votes than those under NOTA in their respective constituencies, with Suman Sharma scoring a mere 75 votes against 210 under NOTA in Cortalim.Seven NCP candidates in Mandrem, Pernem, Mapusa, Panaji, St Cruz, Sanguem and Velim also polled lower votes than those under NOTA, with Domnic Savio Fernandes from Panaji receiving just 62 as against the 175 registered under NOTA.
The highest number of NOTA votes across constituencies stood at 550 and was recorded in Poriem, from where veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane, was re-elected for a record eleventh term.Velim, which witnessed a battle among 12 candidates, saw six from the NCP, Goa Su-raj Party and Ambedkar Party of India, along with some independent aspirants, scoring lower than the 260 votes registered under NOTA. That NOTA voters refused even new and independent faces, indicates that they could be viewing the whole electoral system with disgust.
“I felt none of the candidates in my constituency were worthy of my ballot. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference, but I wanted to exercise my right to vote. Unlike the many who didn’t exercise their franchise on February 4, I got out of my bed and proved I was a responsible citizen,” Gaurav Phadte said, asserting that NOTA qualifies as a vote.Ganpat Kurtikar, secretary of the RTI forum, said there should be an eligibility criteria for candidates contesting. This, he felt, would ease the pressure on voters and help form a stable government. “There should also be a review process every year by which non-performing candidates can be recalled. All this can happen only when the electorate has the option of boycotting candidates by exercising the NOTA option. I feel the reasons for pushing the NOTA button should also be taken into record by the Election Commission (EC),” he told TOI.The NOTA option was introduced by the EC to enable electors, who didn’t wish to vote for any of the candidates listed, to exercise their right to vote. [TOI]

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