210 remain in fray


Decks are cleared now with 210 contestants finally remaining in fray for the Goa Assembly polls, as 27 independent contestants withdrew on the last day of withdrawal today.

The polls are scheduled for 30 May, with the whole state using electronic voting machines as being used twice in 1999 - for the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

Congress is the only party that is contesting all the 40 Assembly seats. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has however left one seat of Velim for their minister Philip Neri Rodrigues.

As alliance talks with the Nationalist Congress Party failed at the last minute, the party led here by former chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza could field only 20 candidates, almost half than what was announced.

The NCP has even accommodated three Congress rebels, who were denied ticket, including former minister Jose Philip D'Souza, who had quit the BJP government soon after dissolution on 27 February. The two others are Rahul Pereira (Quepem) and Ulhas Naik (Poinguinim).

The regional alliance of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (25) and the United Goans Democratic Party (10) has altogether fielded 35 candidates. Unlike their senior partner, the UGDP has also accommodated four Congress rebels.

These are former Congress minister Monte Cruz (Fatorda), former Congress MLA Victor Gonsalves (St Cruz) and two other filthy rich contestants - Babush Monserette (Taleigao) and Micky Pacheco (Benaulim).

Besides 46 independents, which also includes several rebels of the Congress and the BJP, the Shiv Sena is also contesting 15 seats, besides six of Left parties and 10 of the Goa Suraj Party - a newly formed party of senior educated citizens of the state.

At least eight former chief ministers are in the fray, five among them from the Congress alone, including Pratapsing Rane, Luizinho Faleiro, Francisco Sardinha, Churchill Alemao and Ravi Naik, who was the BJP's deputy chief minister till last week.

The other ex-chief ministers are Shashikala Kakodkar (MGP) and Dr de Souza (NCP), besides BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

There are altogether 30 contestants in the fray, who have been in the ministerial positions some time or the other, thanks to the series of defections Goa has witnessed since 1990.

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