BJP won eight such seats — Dinhata, Balarampur, Ghatal, Kulti, Tapan, Kalyani, Moyna and Bankura — as against Trinamool which managed to win five. The TMC won Dantan, Tamluk, Jalpaiguri, Barjora and Ranibandh. In 2016, though, NOTA votes were higher than the victory margin in as many as 21 constituencies.
The Dinhata seat which BJP’s Nisith Pramanik won by defeating TMC heavyweight Udayan Guha will go down as the closest battle this year with Guha losing by merely 57 votes. Total number of NOTA votes polled stood at 1,537. Former cricketer Ashok Dinda, who won from Moyna with a slender margin of 1,260 votes, saw his constituency polling 1,335 NOTA votes.
At Bankura, where actor Sayantika Banerjee lost to BJP’s Niladri Sekhar Dana by 1,468 votes, the total number of NOTA votes polled was about 4,507 — one of the highest in the state.
Even in adjoining Barjora, NOTA votes stood at a record 4,903. TMC’s Alok Mukherjee won by a 3,269 votes from here. Incidentally, Barjora has a history of casting NOTA votes in high numbers. In 2016, CPM’s Sujit Chakraborty had won from Barjora defeating actor Sohom Chakraborty of TMC (now an elected MLA from Chandipur) by a margin of only 616 votes. The votes polled in favour of NOTA then was 4,235.
But there have also been seats where both NOTA numbers and the margin have remained small. TMC’s Soumen Kumar Mahapatra won back Tamluk with a margin of 793 votes; total NOTA votes polled here is 1,136. At Ghatal, BJP won the seat by a margin of 966 votes and the NOTA votes polled here is 1,305.
Ajay Poddar of BJP, who won from Kulti, said it was all about who won the match. “Factors like NOTA do not finally matter as long as you enjoy every moment of the match,” he said.
When asked about it, political commentator Biswanath Chakraborty said, “Since NOTA was a relatively new thing, people were not aware of it initially. I believe that with time this number will increase.”