Panaji: Goa on Monday registered a very high voter turnout of 78.94 per cent in polling for the 40 Assembly seats which passed off peacefully with no untoward incident reported from any part of the state which witnessed a multi-cornered contest, officials said.
They said this was preliminary voter turnout and the final figure may cross 80 per cent as electoral fate of 301 candidates were locked in EVMs which will be opened on March 10 for counting. To check the spread of COVID-19, voters were provided hand gloves at polling stations.
Addressing a press conference, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Kunal said the highest voting was registered in the Sankhalim constituency in North Goa at 89.61 per cent, while the lowest voter turnout was 70.20 per cent at Benaulim in South Goa.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is the BJP candidate from Sankhalim.
The poll officer said the overall voter turnout stood at 78.94 per cent.
"This is a tentative percentage of voting, while the exact data would be available later. The voting percentage may cross 80 per cent after adding votes polled through ballot papers," CEO Kunal said.
Over 11 lakh people were eligible to cast their votes. They include 9,590 persons with disabilities, 2,997 aged over 80 years, 41 sex workers and nine transgenders.
The Vasco constituency had the highest number of 35,139 voters, while the Mormugao seat had the lowest number of voters at 19,958, he said.
Kunal said "13,150 postal ballots were issued and a total of 12,546 people voted through postal ballots." He said polling was held at 1,722 booths, of which 105 were manned by only women personnel (also called 'pink booths') and eight by differently abled persons.
The CEO said 80 candidates had criminal antecedents, which were published in the media before the voting as per a Supreme Court mandate.
A senior police official said the election was conducted in a peaceful manner and no serious complaint of any malpractice was received.
He said three FIRs related to different incidents were registered during the day.
In one of the incidents, the car of a person, who is related to a political leader, was set on fire at Bicholim, while at Sanvordem a person was found with cash, the police official said.
He said the total cash seizure was Rs 6.06 crore during the period of code of conduct which came into force in early January.
Besides, liquor worth Rs 3.57 crore was also seized during the period, the official added.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Sawant claimed the BJP will win more than 22 seats in the 40-member Assembly and said he will continue to hold the top post if his party forms the next government in the coastal state.
After casting his vote at a booth in Sankhalim, Mr Sawant said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him in the morning over the phone and conveyed his best wishes for the Assembly polls.
"The prime minister called me over phone at around 7 am to convey his best wishes to me and all BJP workers for the polling day, and gave his blessings," Mr Sawant told PTI.
Asked whether he would remain the chief minister if the BJP wins, Sawant said there should be on doubt about it in the wake of announcements made (in this regard) by PM Modi and party president JP Nadda.
"It is obvious that I would be the chief minister as the present election is being fought under my leadership," he said.
Governor PS Sridharan Pillai was among the early voters. He cast his vote at a booth in the Taleigao Assembly constituency in North Goa district.
Himachal Pradesh Governor Rajendra Arlekar, who hails from Goa, and his wife cast their votes in Vasco.
"I have come here from Himachal Pradesh specially to cast my vote. Voting is a fundamental right. I appeal to people to come out in large numbers to vote. There should be cent per cent voting," Arlekar said.
Besides the Congress and the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the MGP, the Shiv Sena, the NCP, the Revolutionary Goans, the Goencho Swabhimaan Party and the Jai Mahabharat Party, among others, were also in the poll fray besides 68 independent candidates.
The Congress and the Goa Forward Party (GFP) forged an alliance, while the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC tied-up with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).
The Congress fielded 37 candidates and its ally GFP three, while the BJP contested on all 40 seats.
The prominent candidates included Sawant (BJP), Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat (Congress), former CMs Churchill Alemao (TMC), Ravi Naik (BJP), Laxmikant Parsekar (independent), former deputy CMs Vijai Sardesai (GFP) and Sudin Dhavalikar (MGP), late CM Manohar Parrikar's son Utpal Parrikar and AAP's CM face Amit Paleker.
Prime Minister Modi, BJP president J P Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah campaigned in the last one month for the saffron party. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigned for the party in the coastal state.
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