New Delhi: Amid a tough battle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, independents and Nota (none of the above) were the X-factors in Gujarat.

Independents with 1,290,278 votes (4.3% vote share) and Nota with 551,615 votes (1.8%) were just behind the BJP and Congress party, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Put together, Nota and Independents got 6.1% votes, better than the number of votes polled by several parties, including the Bharatiya Tribal Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), ECI data shows.

The combined vote share of both Nota and Independents is significant as it is close to the vote share gaps between the BJP and the Congress.

Though Nota did not have a direct bearing on the poll outcome, it reflects how voters are sending a message to the political parties.

In some constituencies, Nota was a deal breaker. For example, in Umreth, BJP candidate defeated the nearest rival Congress candidate by just 1,883 votes. In the same constituency, Nota got 3,710 votes, nearly double the winning margin.

However, a former election commissioner was not very supportive of the votes that went to Nota.

“Nota is like a blank vote. It makes no impact on results," S.Y. Quraishi, a former election commissioner of India said in a tweet.

Nota, the lowest button on the electronic voting machines, was introduced in India in 2013. It allowed the citizens to exercise their democratic duty without giving vote to any particular candidate.

The Nota votes in Gujarat was a certainly a factor but in Himachal Pradesh, Nota did not get enough votes. It got just 0.9% of the vote share.

Both in Gujarat and Himachal, BJP won the election.

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