Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has claimed that residents in the Indore constituency are likely to press the None Of The Above, or NOTA button, instead of voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party during Lok Sabha polls there on May 13.

Mahajan can be seen making the claim in an interview to the regional news channel MP Tak. A clip of the interview was shared by Congress leader Supriya Shrinate on Sunday.

“I have been getting calls from people...who say they will not vote BJP but will press NOTA,” said Mahajan, who has represented the constituency as an MP of the saffron party eight consecutive times since 1989.

On April 30, Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari had urged voters to hit the NOTA button to teach the Bharatiya Janata Party a lesson after the Congress’ candidate, Akshay Kanti Bam, withdrew his nomination and joined the BJP.

Bam withdrew his nomination and joined the BJP five days after a sessions court in Indore directed the police to add an attempt-to-murder charge against him in a 17-year-old dispute over a land deal.

“[Bam’s defection] should not have happened,” Mahajan had told The Times of India on Saturday. “There was no need for this, as BJP’s victory in Indore was a foregone conclusion.”

Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders have claimed that the BJP forced Bam’s defection by influencing the attempt-to-murder charge and threatening to file other cases against him.

Patwari said that polling for the seat would now be a fight “between the values of Indore and the BJP’s arrogance”.

The state Congress chief added: “By murdering democracy in Indore on April 29, the BJP has turned the country's cleanest city into the most politically polluted one.”

The Indore Lok Sabha constituency has been held by the BJP since 1989. The Hindutva party’s Shankar Lalwani had won the seat by more than 5.4 lakh votes in 2019.