Shimla: The Mandi Lok Sabha by-poll witnessed over a double fold rise in NOTA votes, sending signals for some serious thinking and retrospection to both the major political parties BJP and Congress in Himachal.

The mandate of the public is a clear indication that they are not happy with any of the two political parties who come to power. It has played a deciding factor for outcome of the poll results, at a time when there is a single party (BJP) with a majority both in the Centre and state.

This time 12,636 voters opted for NOTA in the Mandi by-elections, where as the figures in the last Mandi parliamentary elections in 2019 stood at 5298 votes, while in 2014 it was 6191 votes in favour of NOTA.

Of the 17 Assembly segments under the Mandi parliamentary constituency, the highest NOTA votes over 1000 votes were opted in Nachan (1959), Balh (1647) and Kinnaur (1006) Assembly constituencies.

Kullu 993, Mandi 925, Sundernagar 885, Joginder Nagar 807, Seraj 372, Darang 572, Sarkaghat 565, Manali 476, Bharmour 379, Banjara 513, Anni 532,  Karsog 463, Rampur 412 and Lahaul-Spiti 120.

While inflation had been a major issue, however, the public of Kinnaur had openly announced to opt to boycott and opt for NOTA ahead of the polls due to disenchantment as both political parties have failed to address the environmental concerns in the region in wake of number of hydropower projects coming up. 

NOTA (None of the above) was introduced in 2013 by the Election Commission of India consequent to Supreme Court orders.

NOTA changed the political equation for both the ruling party and the opposition party in the state, resulting in Congress defeating BJP by a thin margin of 7049 votes.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur talking to media said, “The Mandi by-elections result has not been as was much expected. It is the victory of Congress with the thinnest margin ever in the Mandi parliamentary election. Had NOTA votes not been polled, the results would have been different.”

“The rise in NOTA votes should be taken seriously, by both the ruling party and also us as an opposition party. It has drawn the attention to retrospect and introspection keeping in mind for the growing disillusionment of the public, ” said State Congress President Kuldeep Singh Rathore.