More people vote, peacefully

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 28 February 1998 21:05 IST

Goa has maintained its tradition even this time of showing enthusiasm in exercising their democratic right of voting in a leisurely and peaceful manner, without a single untoward incident being reported in both the constituencies.

In fact, the voting percentage increased this time in Mormugao (south Goa) constituency, breaking its earlier record of 56 per cent. Over 61 per cent of the 4.84 lakh voters turned up at the polling booths.

It however reduced in Panaji (north Goa), having around 3.94 lakh voters, presently represented by union law minister Ramakant Khalap.

The remarkable rise of six per cent in the south appears to be an outcome of a fierce battle between outgoing MP Churchill Alemao of the united Goans democratic party, Francisco Sardinha of the congress and Ramakant angle of the BJP.

Though Khalap’s North Goa polling is reduced by three per cent in comparison to 55 per cent in last elections, it appears that this may affect the congress candidate, former chief minister Ravi Naik, as the union minister’s stronghold areas in Pernem taluka have reported excellent polling figures.

As usual, more people came out to exercise their franchise in rural areas while most of the booths looked deserted in major towns of the tiny coastal state. With tourist season arriving at a fag end, the business community, including small traders, appears to have preferred to stay away from voting, especially in the predominantly congress-dominated coastal belt of north Goa.

The usual scene of electorate lining up in a queue was not witnessed anywhere during a tour of 22 assembly segments of total 40, divided into 21 and 19 in Mormugao and Panaji constituencies respectively. Rather than tables outside the 200 meter line, vehicles were seen getting the voter at the doorstep of the polling station, in violation of the code of conduct.

Though it is difficult to predict, the overall trend appeared to be in favour of retaining both the seats in the hands of the regional outfits - represented Khalap and Alemao. The most significant development however is the breakthrough made by the BJP a non-entity till date, whose impact was felt in every village of both the constituencies, except the catholic-dominated areas in the south.

Khalap seemed very confident of winning the seat once again as his favourite taluka of Pernem, comprising three assembly segments, seemed totally in his favour. It had given him a margin of over 11,000 last time while he had won the polls by 10,000 votes.

Similar is the case of Alemao, who now claims that he would win the seat by 40,000 votes, against the previous margin of 25,000. Unlike major benefit of the anti-congress votes in catholic areas last time, he appears to have also made a dent in Hindu-dominated segments, especially the tribal belt.

Sardinha, who has posed a serious threat before Alemao, however claims a victory with a margin of 20,000 votes. Though he seems quite strong in catholic-dominated Salcete taluka, the BJP is likely to swing their votes, in which case Alemao’s victory looks imminent.

If the survey of over half of the areas in both the constituencies is any indication, then these elections may also prove that the BJP has pushed the MGP to fourth place in the south while the UGDP, while making a debut, would simply establish its identity in the north. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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Lok Sabha '98