Panaji: After an acrimonious campaign, Goa is all set for the Assembly polls on 4 February which will witness a contest among ruling BJP, opposition Congress, new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the three-party alliance forged by MGP, GSM and Shiv Sena. Over 11 lakh voters in Goa are eligible to exercise their right to franchise to elect members for the 40-seat state Assembly. Voting across 1,642 polling booths in the state would begin tomorrow at 7 am and culminate at 5 pm.
The Chief Electoral Officer, working under the guidance of Election Commission of India (ECI), has deployed trained staff to conduct polling which would be provided security cover jointly by state police and paramilitary forces. The fate of five former chief ministers and present Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar will be decided in the election which is being contested by 250 candidates--131 in South Goa and 119 in North Goa. The counting of votes will be held on March 11.
There are speculations that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar might be sent back to Goa to be the next chief minister, if BJP retains power in the tourist state. BJP, Congress, AAP, and MGP and its allies are the major contenders this time. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party, which has for the first time forayed into Goa, is contesting on 39 seats. Congress is contesting on 38 seats and BJP on 37. BJP, which had pre-poll alliance during the 2012 Assembly polls, is going alone this time but is supporting independents in four constituencies.
The ruling party, which had projected Parrikar as the chief ministerial face in 2012, had then contested on 28 seats while Congress fought on 34 seats. The Parrikar-led party had in 2012 garnered 34.68 percent of vote share as against 30.78 percent of Congress.
Post the 2012 election, there were two bypolls in the state. First on 25 May, 2012, when the Cortalim Assembly seat fell vacant following the demise of sitting legislator and BJP minister Mathany Saldanha and the other on 16 February, 2015, when Parrikar was elevated to the Union Cabinet. In both the by-elections, the BJP candidates had won. The current election is being fought on the plank of "verdict for continuation of development" by BJP, while the Congress has focused its campaign over the alleged u-turn on the promises by the state government.
Congress is assuring a corruption-free government to the people of Goa. A majority of the candidates fielded by AAP are fresh faces. Its chief ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes has promised to put processes in place within 90 days to check corruption in the state. The election will also test the impact of rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar on the electorate. Velingkar's Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) has forged a pre-poll alliance with the MGP and Shiv Sena in the state.
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Updated Date: Feb 04, 2017 12:26:13 IST