Goa bracing for hung assembly, Congress just ahead


Panaji : Goa was headed for another hung assembly Tuesday with the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) locked in a neck and neck race for power from Saturday's elections.

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As the vote count began early in the day, it looked for a while that the Congress along with its ally NCP was set to retain power in the 40-seat house. But the main opposition BJP soon narrowed the gap.

Election Commission officials said the Congress-NCP coalition had bagged 14 seats and the BJP 13. Of the 34 constituencies where results had been declared, smaller parties and independents had won six.

Political pundits admitted that the politically instable state was in all probability set to get another hung legislature, with either the NCP-Congress pair or BJP ending up with the maximum number of seats.

A splintered verdict would also provide crucial political space to smaller parties and independents who would be able to decide which party takes power – and on their conditions.

Former BJP minister Ramrao Desai lost in Curchorem. In Sanvordem, prominent businessman Anil Salgaocar, an independent, defeated the BJP.

BJP leader and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar won the Panaji seat for the fourth successive term, with a margin of just under 1,500 votes. Parikkar is BJP's chief ministerial candidate.

Congress' Digambar Kamat won from Margao. Ravi Naik, who too returned to Congress after serving as deputy chief minister in the BJP government, retained his Ponda seat.

Congress' Aleixo Sequeira won in Loutolim, Goa's only Catholic minority constituency in the coastal south.

But Ramakant Khalap, who joined the Congress after leaving the regional Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), lost in North Goa to BJP.

The June 2 elections in the former Portuguese colony saw 202 candidates in the fray. These included 49 independents.

The main battle was between the ruling Congress-NCP coalition, led by Pratapsinh Rane, and the BJP.