Mumbai: Polling for two assembly constituencies in Goa, where by-elections are being held, began at 8am on Wednesday. Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar is contesting from Panaji constituency, while his cabinet colleague Vishwajit Rane is seeking a term from Valpoi constituency.
The voting will end at 5pm, according to the chief electoral officer (CEO), Goa. The CEO has also declared a public holiday in Panaji and Valpoi constituencies.
The counting of votes will be held on 28 August.
Chief minister Manohar Parrikar was one of the first voters to exercise his franchise at Masson Amorim polling station. The turnout was around 18% in the first two hours after polling began in both the constituencies, according to CEO staff.
In the February 2017 assembly elections in Goa, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Siddharth Kuncalienkar won from Panaji by only 919 votes. Kuncalienkar, however, resigned in May to make way for Parrikar who is not a member of the Goa assembly yet. In the February polls, Rane had won from Valpoi on a Congress ticket, but he soon resigned and joined the BJP.
Panaji, the Goan capital, has been Parrikar’s constituency since 1994 and he has never lost an election here. Parrikar is contesting against Congress candidate Girish Chodankar and Goa Suraksha Manch nominee Anand Shirodkar.
Named as constituency number 11 in the Goa assembly, Panaji in North Goa has 21,355 registered voters, much less than the average constituency size of around 27,000 in Goa. It is an open category constituency.
In the February polls, the Panaji constituency saw 78.85% turnout which was in keeping with Goa’s record high polling in that election.
Rane is contesting against Congress candidate Roy Naik. Before 2017, Rane has won from Valpoi constituency in 2007 and 2012.
Numbered 19, the Valpoi constituency is also located in North Goa district. In the 2017 polls, Rane had defeated his BJP rival by 2,939 votes. The constituency has 26,094 registered voters and the February polls saw a turnout of 89%.