Panaji, March 11 : Goa appeared headed for a hung assembly on Saturday even as both the Congress and the BJP claimed they will form the new government in the coastal state.
The Congress inched towards becoming the single largest party in the 40-member house winning 14 of the 35 seats for which results had been declared.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had won 12 seats and was leading in one constituency. The Congress led in two other seats.
While a Congress spokesperson said the party would soon stake claim to form the government, BJP President Amit Shah also announced the party’s ambition to take power in the state.
“A lot of like-minded people have been elected, including my friend Vijai (Sardesai of Goa Forward). Let the party leadership decide. Of course we will form the government,” Congress MLA from Valpoi Vishwajeet Rane told IANS in Panaji.
In Goa, as many as seven cabinet ministers, including Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, were defeated.
Parsekar finished second with 9,371 votes while the winner of the Mandrem assembly seat was Dayanand Sopte of the Congress (16,490 votes).
Sopte told the media: “The margin of nearly 5,000 votes shows the people were unhappy with the CM’s work.”
Among other cabinet ministers who were defeated was Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar who lost the Saligao seat to Jayesh Salgaonkar of the Goa Forward, a regional party, by 2,137 votes.
Water Resources Minister Dayanand Mandrekar also lost to Goa Forward’s Vinod Palyenkar by 1,441 votes. Industries Minister Mahadev Naik lost to Congress candidate Subhash Shirodkar by 4,870 votes.
Minister for Factories and Boilers and state MGP President Deepak Dhavalikar was defeated by Independent candidate Govind Gawde in Priol by 4,686 votes.
Dhavalikar and his brother Sudin Dhavalikar were sacked from the cabinet by Parsekar, about a month before polls were announced in Goa.
Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado lost to Congress state president Luizinho Faleiro by 2,478 votes in Navelim constituency while Forest and Environment Minister Rajendra Arlekar lost to Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s (MGP) Manohar Ajgaonkar by 6,030 votes.
According to former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, the verdict was a slap in the face of the BJP-led coalition’s governance.
“Ministers are losing everywhere, even the Chief Minister has lost. They (ministers) are even leaving counting halls after the first round. People were disgusted with them,” Kamat said.
The declared winners from the Congress till Saturday evening were Clafasio Dias (Cuncolim), Dayanand Sopte (Mandrem), Digambar Kamat (Margao), Luizinho Faleiro (Navelim), Wilfred D’Sa (Nuvem), Ravi Naik (Ponda), Pratapsingh Rane (Poriem), Chandrakant Kavlekar (Quepem), Subhash Shirodkar (Shiroda), Francisco Silveira (St. Andre), Antonio Fernandes (St. Cruz), Jennifer Monserrate (Taleigao), Vishwajeet Rane (Valpoi) and Nilkanth Halarnkar (Thivim).
BJP’s winning candidates included Sidharth Kuncalienker (Panaji), Pramod Sawant (Sanquelim), Mauvin Godinho (Dabolim), Pravin Zantye (Mayem), Francis D’Souza (Mapusa), Milind Naik (Mormugao), Glenn Ticlo (Aldona), Rajesh Patnekar (Bicholim), Michael Lobo (Calangute), Alina Saldanha (Cortalim), Pandurang Madkaikar (Cumbharjua) and Nilesh Cabral (Curchorem).
NCP’s Churchill Alemao, making a political comeback after being arrested in connection with the multi-crore Louis Berger bribery scam two years back, won from Benaulim, beating his nearest rival Royla Fernandes of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by 5,191 votes.
The Goa Forward and the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party, both regional parties, won three seats yet, while three Independents were also elected.
The role of these regional parties as well as Independents would be crucial as far as government formation is concerned, with no political party securing a majority in the 40-member Goa assembly.
The AAP, which had made a determined bid to take power, could not win a single seat, with its Chief Ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes coming fourth in Cuncolim, polling only 3,336 votes.
Conrgess’ Clafasio won from Cuncolim, defeating Independent Joaquim Alemao by just 213 votes.
“We have to respect the people’s will. The fact remains that the AAP has made an impact on Goa and we will continue to work,” Gomes said.
The Goa Surakha Manch, formed by ex-RSS leader Subhash Velinkar who had the Shiv Sena as his ally, also could not open its account.
By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar