New Delhi: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Thursday said it will launch a nationwide campaign against NOTA before the Lok Sabha elections. NOTA or none of the above gives voters a right not to vote for any candidate contesting from a particular seat. The ABVP will urge people to vote in favour of any candidate of their choice instead of opting for NOTA in the upcoming elections, its national secretary Hema Thakur said.

“The ABVP is in favour of abolishing the NOTA option in the upcoming elections in the larger interest of democracy. Even if it is not abolished, we will ask people to vote in favour of any candidate of their choice instead of opting for NOTA,” Thakur said.

The decision to launch the campaign was taken at a four-day national session of the ABVP held from December 27 to 30 in Ahmedabad, she added.

However, Thakur denied that the decision was taken over the BJP’s poll performance in the three states. She said that the campaign would also focus on the ABVP’s slogan of ‘Nation First, Voting Must’ to encourage people to exercise their franchise and ultimately achieve the target of 100 per cent voting.

“It is a misconception that the ABVP is a students’ wing of the BJP. The ABVP came into existence in 1949 whereas the BJP was formed after several decades in 1980. Some of our policies may be similar. Yes, the ABVP is a part of the Sangh Parivar,” she said.

In several seats of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, votes polled in favour of NOTA were more than the victory margin which could have changed the final results.

In Rajasthan assembly elections, at least 15 constituencies polled more NOTA votes than the victory margin of the winning candidates. While the Congress got 99 seats in the state, the BJP managed 73 seats.

In Madhya Pradesh too, votes cast in favour of NOTA were more than the margin of victory in 22 assembly constituencies. NOTA even ‘outperformed’ some of the parties such as the AAP and the Samajwadi Party. The state saw a close race with the Congress winning 114 seats and the BJP 109 seats.

On a total vote share basis, the difference between the Congress and the BJP in Chhattisgarh was 10 per cent and NOTA polled 2 per cent votes.

Demanding early formation of ‘Bhavya Ram Mandir’ in Ayodhya, she criticised the judiciary for the delay in its decision on the issue. Thakur said the apex court pronounced judgements on issues like homosexuality, adultery and Sabarimala but is delaying the verdict on Ram Temple, which is a matter of faith for millions.

On the Sabarimala issue, she said, “I support entry of women into Sabarimala temple as far as rights of women are concerned. But everyone should take care of the issue of faith and entry should not be forced.”