Guwahati: Bharatiya Janata Party, according to early trends, is leading in 19 constituencies while Congress is ahead in 11 in the 40-seat Goa assembly as counting of votes began on Thursday. Aam Aadmi Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party are leading at one seat each.
The ruling BJP in Goa looks all set to score a hattrick in the coastal state, however, Congress is still fighting hard.
While the Congress-GFP, BJP, TMC-MGP have fielded 40 candidates each, 39 candidates are in the fray on an AAP ticket. Key candidates include incumbent chief minister Pramod Sawant of the BJP from the Sanquelim constituency, Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat of Congress from the Margao seat, and Utpal Parrikar from the Panaji seat.
The BJP rallied with Pramod Sawant as its CM face and AAP named Amit Palekar as its CM candidate, whereas the Congress and the TMC refrained from announcing a CM face.
Many prominent Congress turncoats contested on BJP tickets while some BJP leaders fought as independent candidates. The entry of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made the contest multi-cornered rather than the previous bipolar race with two main parties being the BJP and the Congress. Other parties in the fray are the Revolutionary Goans, Goencho Swabhimaan Party, Jai Mahabharat Party and Sambhaji Brigade besides 68 independent candidates.
After the majority of exit polls predicted a hung Assembly in Goa, chief minister Pramod Sawant said the central party leadership is in talks with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) for a post-poll alliance in case the saffron party fails to achieve a majority.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC), which contested the election in alliance with the MGP, has already deployed senior party leaders Abhishek Banerjee and Derek O’Brien and poll strategist Prashant Kishore to secure its candidates who emerge victorious.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too revealed its party leaders were in touch with the Congress.
The AAP and Congress have started securing their candidates. Congress reportedly moved its candidates to a resort in north Goa, where they will stay until the counting of votes is over and the results are out.
A voter turnout of nearly 79% was recorded in Goa on February 14, as single-phase polling for all 40 Assembly seats in the state came to an end. Turnout was highest for Sanquelim, from where CM and BJP leader Pramod Sawant is one of the candidates; 89.64% polling took place here. In 2017, the state witnessed a turnout of 81.21%.