BJP edges ahead; calls for Vishwajit Rane to be made CM grow
PANAJI: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has edged ahead in what still appears to be a hung assembly in Goa, but is in a commanding position to retain power in the state despite what seemed like a wave of anti-incumbency after their gamble in betting on individual winnable candidates paid off, and after a split in the opposition vote.
“The BJP will get a clear majority. We will be the single largest party,” state party president Sadanand Shet Tanavade said.
The Congress representative, meanwhile, blamed a split in the vote for the disappointing show.
“The anti-BJP vote is splitting three-way - AAP, TMC and Congress,” Congress’ Ramakant Khalap said.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant faces a tough fight to retain his Sanquelim seat, with initial trends indicating that his rival Dharmesh Saglani of the Congress secured a narrow lead against him.
Congress’ Digambar Kamat looks set for victory from the Margão constituency in South Goa after securing a comfortable lead against his rivals.
In the hot seat of the capital city of Panaji, Atanasio Monserrate of the BJP has taken a healthy lead over his nearest rival Utpal Parrikar, son of former Goa chief minister and former Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar.
Several other BJP candidates, including deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavlekar, are currently trailing.
Elections in Goa were held on February 14, 2022, with a voter turnout of 79.61%. Nearly 9,27 lakh of the 11.64 lakh eligible voters cast their votes, while more than 29,000 postal ballots were issued.
In a bid to beat the anti-incumbency mood, the BJP denied tickets to seven of its sitting MLAs who they felt will face the brunt, while an eighth candidate was made to change his constituency; their replacements have won in helping the party secure the necessary numbers.
The ruling BJP set ideologies aside and gave tickets to those it wooed prior to the polls, bringing in legislators from the Congress, the Goa Forward, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Independents who they felt were winning bets among the opposition ranks, much to the chagrin of its loyal workers in five constituencies.
This was prominent in the Panaji constituency where the party denied a ticket to Parrikar’s son Utpal in favour of Atanasio Monserrate, someone who had little to do with the BJP’s ideology and everything to do with his winning formula.
A division among the opposition is evident from the fact that the Congress is leading in 11, the MGP in 4, the Aam Aadmi Party in 2, the Revolutionary Goans in 1, apart from four Independent candidates.
The counting of votes began at 8 am, with ballots received under ETPBS from service voters being taken up in the beginning, followed by ballots of absentee voters and thereafter postal ballots of polling officials. Counting of EVMs began at 8:30 am. It is expected that the counting of votes from postal ballots and EVMs will be over in around four hours. Thereafter, a mandatory count of 5 VVPAT in sequential order will be undertaken.
The Goa assembly polls saw 301 candidates representing 12 political parties, besides Independents - nearly 21% higher than the 2014 elections, and about 50% higher than the 213 candidates from 2012.
Besides traditional contestants like the Congress, the BJP and the MGP, Goa has also seen new entrants like the Trinamool Congress which is making its second attempt in the Goa assembly elections having previously contested the 2012 polls without any success. AAP and the Goa Forward Party too are in the fray for the second consecutive assembly elections. Goa has also seen the rise of a nativist political outfit in the Revolutionary Goans Party that has promised to keep Goa for Goans and pass a law to that effect.
The BJP contested on all 40 seats, while the Congress contested on 37 seats and gave three seats to alliance partner - the Goa Forward Party.
Other contesting parties include the TMC on 26 seats and its alliance partner the MGP on 13 seats. The Aam Aadmi Party is contesting on 39 seats, while the Nationalist Congress Party and its alliance partner Shiv Sena are contesting on 13 seats each.