Panaji: A brisk 53% turnout has been recorded in the first six hours of voting in Goa on Saturday where the ruling BJP is battling it out with the opposition Congress, AAP and an alliance of MGP, Shiv Sena and GSM for the 40-member House.
Barring the death of a 78-year-old man outside a polling booth in Panaji city, no untoward incident has been reported from anywhere in the state. ECI’s data from various polling booth showed that about 53% of 11.10 lakh voters turned up to exercise franchise in the first six hours.
An impressive 83% voting was recorded in the state in 2012 assembly polls, which saw the BJP wresting power from the Congress.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, widely seen as the chief ministerial face of the BJP, Union minister Shripad Naik and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar were among the early voters who cast their ballots. Long queues were seen outside almost all the polling stations right from the morning in the state.
Except for minor incidents of EVM failures, which were soon rectified, and cancellation of voting in one booth, polling is progressing peacefully in over 1,642 booths across the state, to decide the fate of 250 contestants in the fray.
The election is being closely fought by major political forces BJP, Congress, AAP and MGP-led alliance, who have mounted a hectic campaign. The polls will decide future of Goa’s five former chief ministers Churchill Alemao, Pratapsinh Rane, Ravi Naik, Digambar Kamat and Luizinho Faleiro and the incumbent Laxmikant Parsekar.
BJP has put up 36 aspirants, Congress 37 and AAP is contesting on 39 seats, and each of them backing independents in a few seats. BJP, which had a pre-poll alliance in 2012, is going it alone this time, after the MGP snapped the partnership and forged a front with Goa Suraksha Manch floated by RSS rebel Subhas Velingkar and Shiv Sena.
Leslie Saldanha, 78, who was waiting to cast his vote in Panaji collapsed and died, officials said. Saldanha was immediately rushed to Goa Medical College and Hospital but he was declared brought in dead.