Goa Election 2017: Narrow victories common in state, many prominent faces have won by a whisker

The tiny coastal tourist haven that is Goa goes to poll on 4 February. The state has the second lowest Vidhan Sabha seats 40 in India (after Sikkim). With an electorate of just about 11 lakhs (based on the latest data), it is smaller than the total voters eligible to cast their vote in BMC elections on 21 February. However, smaller states make for interesting bits of data especially as electoral fights can go down the wire in some of the constituencies.

In a state where the average number of electorates in constituencies range anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000, close fight between the two parties – in Goa’s case between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress (INC) – can often swing a seat with just a few votes.

A study of the results of the 2012 Goa Assembly Election showed (check map represented above) that in four of the 40 assembly constituencies, candidates won by a margin of less than a thousand votes with the narrowest margin being less than 500 votes in the Sanguem constituency.

BJP’s Subhash Upal Dessai defeated his nearest NCP rival Yuri Alemao (part of Congress alliance) by a margin of 483 votes. Yuri is the son of Joaquim Alemao, a former minister and the brother of former chief minister Churchill Alemao.

 Goa Election 2017: Narrow victories common in state, many prominent faces have won by a whisker

Representational image

Another interesting example is that of five-time MLA Mauvin Godinho, who contested the election on an Indian National Congress ticket in 2012 and won the Dabolim seat by just 944 votes. However, after differences with his party, he joined the BJP last year and would now be contesting for the same seat on the saffron party’s ticket.

The newly formed Porvorim constituency, however, sprung a surprise, as Independent candidate Rohan Khaunte won the seat by 901 votes whereas Milind Naik of BJP won the Mormugao constituency by 913 votes.

These four examples from the 2012 election aren't the sole examples, as a matter of fact, Goa has seen many prominent candidates winning and losing their seats with narrow margins.

In 2007 elections, when nine of the 40 constituencies saw victory margins of less than a thousand votes, BJP’s Ramesh Tawadkar defeated Congress candidate Aleixinho Fernandes in the now defunct Poinguinim constituency, by just 200 votes.

Until January 2017, Tawadkar had been the minister for animal husbandry and agriculture in the Laxmikant Parsekar Cabinet.

If one goes further into Goa’s electoral history, in 2002 polls, three-time MLA from St Cruz, Victoria Fernandes, had narrowly won her seat by a margin of only 40 votes. In the same election, former chief minister Wilfred D’Souza won the Saligao seat by 726 votes. D'Souza, in fact, had won the same seat by a narrow margin of just 464 votes in the 1999 election too.

In 2002 polls, the biggest upset was witnessed in Mormugao constituency, where veteran leader Shaikh Hassan Haroon lost to Congress candidate Giovanni Vaz by a mere 443 votes.

The incumbent chief minister too had won his first election from the Mandrem constituency by just under thousand votes – 908 to be precise.

However, the political reality in Goa has changed 15 years. After a direct BJP versus Congress fight in the previous two Assembly elections, the 2017 polls would witness multi-pronged contests. For the first time since 2007, neither Congress nor BJP have gone in for an alliance with smaller parties. With multi-cornered battles looming large and the Aam Aadmi Party adding flavour to the polling season, it could indeed be anybody’s game.

The results on 11 March may well throw some surprises.

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Updated Date: Feb 03, 2017 21:30:37 IST