Goa Assembly bypolls: Polling today began in Panaji, Valpoi assembly constituencies even as Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has cast his vote early in the morning. CM Parrikar has ruled out any projections of results. It will be substantial, he said during a media interaction following casting his vote. Notably, in Panaji, Parrikar is contesting against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s confidante Girish Chodankar. In Valpoi, the BJP has fielded Congress rebel and Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane, whose main opponent is Roy Naik, the son of former state Home minister Ravi Naik, of the Congress. Panaji is considered as a stronghold of BJP, and the party has been winning the seat since 1994. The polling is being held at 76 booths including 30 in Panaji and 46 in Valpoi. The voting will culminate at 5 pm. The counting of votes will take place on August 28.
As per the Election Commission data, 51,032 voters are eligible to cast their votes in the bypolls, including 22,203 in Panaji and 28,829 in Valpoi.
The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines are being used, like it was done in the Assembly polls held in February this year.
North Goa Collector Nila Mohanan said that adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure that the polling passes off peacefully.
“Around 1,000 personnel from agencies like the Goa police, India Reserve Battalion and Central Paramilitary Forces are deployed at various locations,” she said.
The Panaji bypoll was necessitated after the BJP’s sitting MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar vacated the seat for Parrikar, as the latter has to get elected to the Assembly within six months of becoming the Chief Minister.
Valpoi by-election became necessary after Rane, the sitting MLA, joined the BJP after the Parrikar-led government won a crucial floor test in March this year.
While Parrikar has promised the overall development of Panaji through an Action Plan, the Congress alleged that the BJP leader, who had represented the constituency from 1994 to 2012, has proved “inefficient”.
In Valpoi seat, Rane, son of veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Pratapsinh Rane, has assured of creating employment for the local youth, according to PTI report.
In the Assembly elections, the Congress won 17 seats and the BJP 13 in the 40-member House.
However, the saffron party formed the government under Parrikar on the backing of three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), and three Independents.