Peaceful polls with large turnout

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 30 May 2002 23:01 IST

Barring minor incidents of assault and threatening, the Goa Assembly election passed off peacefully, reporting over 70 per cent turnout in the state.

"It has been a peaceful and successfully conducted election", commented R P Pal, the joint electoral officer.

The opposition Congress however has alleged that the BJP government misused police machinery to arrest Congress workers, as they realised that they are getting defeated.

"I have no comment to make if they are Congress workers. We had detained all the criminals and history sheeters under preventive detention", states DIG Karnal Singh.

While 20 criminals were detained yesterday, SP Davesh Srivastav said 35 party workers and supporters were arrested during the day, after receiving complaints of assault and threatening in Vasco, Mapusa, Ponda, Bicholim and Quepem. "They belong to all the political parties", he added.

During the tour conducted by this correspondent of several key constituencies, the situation was found to be quite peaceful even in the constituencies where political bigwigs are on the loggerheads.

It was difficult to predict victory for any particular party, as no one-sided wave was found visible. On the contrary, hordes of youth workers belonging to important contestants were found around their respective tables outside the polling booths.

Though official figures of total voter's turnout was not available till late evening, Pal is confident it would cross 70 per cent, whereas it had crossed 50 per cent at several booths by afternoon itself. A similar trend was reported in four elections previously, among the ten held till date.

According to chief minister Manohar Parrikar, the large turnout of educated voters indicates that the electorate 'wanted to do something'. This 'something' cannot be in favour of the Congress but the BJP, he claims.

He disagrees that the educated voter had come out to teach lesson to all the defectors, who are contesting elections from almost all the political parties. "It will favour the party and not individuals", he adds.

Shantaram Naik, the interim president of the Goa PCC, however claims that the large turnout will favour the Congress, but could not explain why and in what manner it will benefit them.

Though he claims that the large turnout indicates that the Congress will win with comfortable majority, Parrikar counters it, stating that it will affect the Congress in its 15 stronghold areas.

It is however a fact that the trend showed silent voting in a big way, though the actual picture will be clear only on 1 June, the day of counting of votes.


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