Massive NOTA turnout shakes up Indore’s electoral landscape

As counting continues in Indore, NOTA has garnered more votes than any of the 13 candidates on the ballot, second only to BJP’s Shankar Lalwani who has secured 9,90,698 votes so far.

The ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option has received a staggering 1,72,798 votes in the Indore Lok Sabha constituency, breaking the previous national record.

As counting continues, NOTA has garnered more votes than any of the 13 candidates on the ballot, second only to BJP’s Shankar Lalwani who has secured 9,90,698 votes so far. This marks the first time that NOTA has outpolled all losing candidates in a Lok Sabha election.

The massive NOTA vote share of over 15% is seen as a resounding rejection of all contestants by a sizeable segment of Indore’s electorate. It surpasses the previous high of 51,660 NOTA votes polled in the Gopalganj constituency of Bihar during the 2019 elections.

Political analysts suggest the Congress party’s campaign asking voters to exercise the NOTA option appears to have catalyzed the NOTA wave in the BJP bastion. Local Congress leaders had complained of their allegations of corruption against the BJP being ignored and not having a strong candidate.

NOTA was introduced in 2013 to allow voters to reject all candidates instead of boycotting polls. However, this is the first time it has achieved such unprecedented numbers in any Indian election.

Independents and smaller parties performed dismally, exposing the limitations of going up against the dense organizational structures of national parties.

Moving forward, election analysts warn that a proliferation of NOTA votes could impact the legitimacy of the democratic exercise itself. As election authorities finalized formalities on Tuesday evening, Indore was still coming to grips with rewriting India’s democracy. For the country’s political establishment, the city’s NOTA numbers seemed to be blaring out a wake-up call to urgently reset their governance properly.