Gandhinagar: A marked increase of the None Of The Above (NOTA) voters in the Gujarat assembly elections played a significant role in deciding the result as many victories of the ruling BJP, which ended up with 99 seats in the 182-member assembly, were with thin margins, exceeded by these votes.
Out of the total 1,50,19,245 votes cast in the 2017 assembly elections, almost 1.8 percent, that is 5,51,414 votes, were NOTA. In many of the seats, the Congress candidates were defeated with very narrow margins, even less then this third major vote getter, NOTA.
Ahmedabad's Dholka constituency was won by BJP Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama with a thin margin of 327 votes over the votes of Congress' Ashwin Rathod. While the third-highest vote getter was Independent Shaktisinh Sisodiya with 4,222 votes, there were 2,347 votes for NOTA.
In Khambhatt constituency, BJP's Mahesh Rawal got 71,459 votes against Congress' Khushmanbhai Patel with 69,141 - a victory margin of 2,318 votes. The third highest votes went to NOTA - 2,731 votes.
In Visnagar, BJP's Rushikesh Patel won by 2,869 votes over Congress' Mahesh Patel, while the NOTA votes amounted to 2,992.
In Fatehpura constituency, BJP's Rameshbhai Katara won by 2,711 votes over Congress' Raghubhai Machhar, while the third highest votes went to NOTA - 4,573 votes far more than the Nationalist Congress Party candidate's 2,747 votes.
In Matar, BJP's Kesharisinh Solanki won with a margin of 2,406 votes over Sanjaybhai Patel of Congress, where the third highest was NOTA with 4,090 votes, far more than the next independent candidate with 1,936 votes.
In Himmatnagar constituency, BJP's Rajendrasinh Chavda beat Congress candidate Kamleshkumar Patel by 1,712 votes, while NOTA was third with 3,334 votes.
In Porbandar, sitting BJP member and Cabinet Minister Babubhai Bokhiria defeated senior Congressman Arjun Modhwadia with a thin margin of 1,855 votes. While the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate for 4,337 votes, NOTA votes totalled 3,433, just enough for Modhwadia to get the coveted seat.
The Umreth constituency was grabbed by BJP candidate Govind Parmar over Congress' Kapilaben Chavda with thin margin of 1,883 votes, where NOTA was third with 3,710 over the fourth-placed candidate, an independent who got 1,286 votes.
The Rajkot rural seat was secured by BJP's Lakhabhai Sagathiya with narrow margin of 2,179 votes over Vashrambhai Sagathiya from the Congress. Although the third-highest vote getter was BSP candidate with 3,323 votes, NOTA grabbed 2,559.
However in constituencies like Sanand, Gariadhar, Deesa, Sayajiganj (Vadodara), Chanasma, Mahuva (Surat), Vijapur, Gandhinagar (south), Kheralu, the BJP candidates' victory was facilitated by Independent candidates whose votes, if going to the Congress, could have led to their candidates' victory.