Invalid votes made all the difference in 69 constituencies
Blame it on voters' illiteracy or plain, simple antipathy, but invalid
votes were a factor to be reckoned with in as many as 69 Lok Sabha
constituencies, where it outstripped even the winning margin of candidates!
Typifying this dubious phenomenon was Rajmahal constituency in
Bihar where Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Bom Marandi defeated his nearest Congress
rival by just nine votes, while the number of invalid
votes cast was a whopping 10,432.
A prominent victim of invalid votes, which are otherwise scrap-heaps of wasted
ballot paper, was former deputy prime minister and Haryana Lok
Dal nominee Devi Lal who lost the election in Rohtak
to his Congress rival by 303 votes. The number
of invalid votes in this constituency was 8,225.
Yet another cliff-hanger was witnessed in Tirupattur
constituency in Tamil Nadu, where the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
candidate managed to win by a margin of 274 votes. The
number of invalid votes polled here was 25,250.
According to poll analysts, had these invalid votes
been properly cast, the outcome could well have been different in all the constituencies.
Of the 69 constituencies where invalid votes played a crucial role, Uttar Pradesh accounts for 11,
folowed by Maharashtra (eight), Tamil Nadu (seven), Andhra Pradesh
and Gujarat (six each), Bihar , Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (five
each), West Bengal and Karnataka (three each), Assam, Haryana
and Kerala (two each) and Goa, Mizoram, Punjab and Andaman and
Nicobar (one each).
The two major beneficiaries of invalid votes were the BJP and the Congress. While the BJP romped home in 21 of the 69
constituencies, the Congress did so in 20.
Incidentally, the two parties were also the major victims of this
phenomenon, with the Congress and the BJP losing
in 24 and 18 seats respectively out of the 69.
For instance, the BJP lost the election in Andaman and Nicobar
to the Congress by 544 votes while the number
of invalid votes here was 1,850. However, the party's lone Muslim candidate,
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from Rampur,
defeated his Congress rival by 4,936 votes -- even
though the number of invalid votes cast here was 9,510.
A prominent Congress loser was former Union minister
Santosh Mohan Deb who lost to the BJP candidate in Assam's Silchar
constituency by 19,566 votes -- while a whopping 25,957 votes were declared
Similarly, BJP heavyweight Vinay Katiyar had the mortification
of losing the Faizabad seat to Mitrasen Yadav of the Samajwadi
party by 7.737 votes; the invalid votes cast was close
In Nandyal, once the constituency of former prime minister P V
Narasimha Rao, Telugu Desam Party candidate Bhuma Magi Reddy
defeated the Congress candidate by 4,650 votes -- the number of
invalid votes cast stood at 10,287.
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