Goa’s Panaji constituency today recorded 70 per cent polling while Valpoi registered 79.80 per cent turn-out in the Assembly by-elections in the BJP-ruled coastal state. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar accused the Congress of trying to sabotage polling and filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI). The Congress levelled counter-allegations. Parrikar, who returned to the state from the Centre after the elections in February, is contesting from Panaji against Congress’ Girish Chodankar and Goa Suraksha Manch’s Anand Shirodkar. In Valpoi, the BJP had fielded health minister Vishwajit Rane against Congress’ Roy Naik. “Final polling stands at 70 per cent in Panaji and 79.80 per cent in Valpoi,” Chief Electoral Officer Kunal said. The voting began at 8 am and ended at 5 pm. Panaji had recorded 77.06 per cent polling during the February 2017 Assembly elections, while Valpoi had registered 86.29 per cent voting then, Kunal said.
Speaking to reporters after the polling was over, Parrikar accused the Congress of trying to sabotage the election process and said that he had submitted a complaint to the ECI. He said that he would release documents related to his complaint, if the ECI did not take action within seven days. Both the Congress and the BJP have filed complaints against each other with the Panaji police after an incident near a booth. Chodankar’s election agent, Rohit Braz D’Sa, complained that BJP leaders Siddharth Kuncolienkar and Sheetal Dattaprasad Naik created ruckus near a polling booth. The BJP in its complaint alleged that Goa Mahila Congress chief Pratima Coutinho and others intimidated its workers and tried to disrupt the election process. Parrikar alleged that some Congress leaders, including Coutinho, were going around like “goons”, and violated the ECI’s prohibition of outside leaders camping in the constituency on polling day. Congress denied this and levelled counter-allegations. “Our workers were being targeted by the BJP leaders when they realised that voting does not favour their (BJP’s) victory,” Coutinho said. Counting would be held on August 28.