Goa skips siesta to vote, turnout over 80 percent

Panaji : Goa seems to have opted against a Saturday siesta with 82.8 percent of its 10.26 lakh voters exercising their franchise to pick a 40-member assembly, with all political players claiming they were poised to win.

Poll officials told reporters here that in all, 82.8 percent voting was recorded, but a final tally would have to wait re-polling in one polling station in Nuvem constituency, where voting was cancelled.

“The exact final tally will have to wait until the repoll is formally conducted,” a poll official said.

In the 2007 election, Goa saw 72 percent polling.

Several polling booths clocked an extremely high voting percentage with several booths clocking above 85 percent, while one polling station in Valpoi assembly segment in North Goa recorded 92 percent voting.

Both the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hailed the “ballot flood”, interpreting it as a good sign for them.

The BJP claimed the surge in voting was bound to help it gain power.

“We are getting 20 seats and (our ally) MGP may get four,” BJP secretary in charge of Goa Aarti Mehra said.

“This is definitely a good sign for Goa and for the BJP. People want a change,” Mehra added.

On the other hand, the Congress claimed that the heavy voter turnout was ominous for the BJP.

“This is a reinforcement of the government’s good deeds. People from all sections came out to back the government and keep communal forces at bay,” Congress working president Francisco Sardinha said.

Polling was largely peaceful barring minor incidents.

Polling at Kirbhat in the Nuvem constituency in South Goa was suspended after a clash between supporters of former tourism minister Mickky Pacheco of Goa Vikas Party (GVP) and Power Minister Aleixo Sequeira (Congress).

In Panaji, Congress candidate Yatin Parekh and his supporters clashed with senior BJP leader Manohar Parrikar’s followers, forcing police to intervene.

In Davorlim, 40 km from Panaji, police escorted Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao’s daughter Valanka out of a house where she was campaigning in the vicinity of a polling booth.

A police inspector was suspended after he did not stop a bus load of people while they were being ferried to a polling booth in Vasco, 34 km from Panaji.

Two polling officials were replaced – at Dongri in St Andre constituency near Panaji and Kundaim in Marcaim constituency – following complaints that they favoured a particular party.

A police spokesperson said that in all 10 poll-related first information reports (FIR) were filed all over Goa Saturday – seven in North Goa, and three in South Goa district.

The main contest was between the Congress-NCP alliance and the BJP-Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party combine. The Trinamool Congress has fielded 20 candidates.

Among the fray were Chief Minister Digambar Kamat (Margao) and five of his predecessors — Pratapsingh Rane (Poriem), Churchill Alemao (Navelim) and Ravi Naik (Ponda), all Congress, Dr Wilfred de Souza, (Aldona) from Trinamool Congress and Parrikar (Panaji) of the BJP.

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