The counting of votes for all 40 constituencies of the Goa Assembly began at 8 AM today at two centres in Panaji and Margao. The focus is on whether the BJP will be able to retain power and if it gets a fresh mandate, will Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar return to his home state as chief minister.
The fate of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, whose Mandrem constituency will be taken up for counting during the first round, will be decided within the first hour of the counting.
The postal ballots and votes polled by service voters will be taken up first before calculating the numbers on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Tight security arrangements have been made with over 1,000 policemen deployed. Election officials said the counting will be completed by 2.30 PM.
The votes for 19 constituencies will be counted at Panaji in North Goa, while the tally for the remaining 21 will be carried out in Margao in South Goa.
The elections held on February 4 witnessed an enthusiastic response of voters, with polling clocking in at 83 per cent.
The election has five former chief ministers besides the incumbent CM in the fray.
The Congress, the prime opponent of the BJP, has fielded four former chief ministers -– Digambar Kamat, Pratapsinh Rane, Ravi Naik and Luizinho Faleiro in their respective constituencies, while the NCP has given a ticket to Churchill Alemao.
The main fight expected to be between the Congress and the BJP, while the AAP has also put up a spirited fight on 39 seats.
The BJP has fielded 36 candidates, supporting Independents in Benaulim, Navelim, Priol and Velim. The Congress has candidates on 37 seats and has extended support to United Goans’ Atanasio Monserratte in Panaji, Goa Forward’s Vinod Palyekar in Siolim and Independent candidate Rohan Khaunte in Porvorim constituencies.
The BJP’s major worry is an alliance between the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, the Shiv Sena and Rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar-led Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM).
In the 2012 assembly election, the BJP had won a majority with 21 seats followed by the Congress which had got nine seats, MGP three, Goa Vikas Party (2) while five Independent legislators were elected.