34% cast ballots in Goa polls in 4 hours
Nearly 34 per cent of the state's electorate have cast their ballots in the Goa assembly polls which began on Saturday morning, election officials said.
"North Goa recorded 35 per cent voting, while in South Goa 32 per cent of the electorate has voted as of 11 a.m.," Chief Electoral Officer Kunal told reporters in Panaji.
The percentage of male and female voters was equal at 17 per cent, he said.
Among the early voters on Saturday were Defence Minister and former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who cast his ballot in Panaji, while Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar voted in his coastal constituency of Mandrem, minutes after the polling started.
Speaking to IANS after casting his ballot, Parsekar expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would come to power in the 40-member assembly, when the results are announced on March 11.
"There is no doubt about victory. What matters is what we do for Goa after March 11," Parsekar said. Former Goa Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Subhash Velingkar also cast his ballot in Panaji. Velingkar said that the alliance between the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Suraksha Manch and Shiv Sena would win 22 seats.
"The BJP government has to go and will go. The RSS cadre in Goa will not vote for them. The Goa BJP and Parrikar are responsible for the maladies the state is suffering," Velingkar said.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes also cast his ballot.
"Congress and BJP have been in power for five years each. People have seen how corrupt they are. People will vote for AAP," Aam Aadmi Party's Panaji candidate Valmiki Naik said.A
A total of 251 candidates are contesting, the main parties in the fray being the ruling BJP, Indian National Congress, AAP, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Suraksha Manch, among others.
Over 8,000 additional paramilitary personnel, in addition to the state police, have been despatched to the 1,642 polling stations across the state and other strategic locations to maintain law and order.
Goa has 11.08 lakh registered voters, who are entitled to exercise their franchise. Polling will end at 5 p.m.
The 2012 state assembly polls recorded a highest ever voting percentage in the state last year at 82.2 per cent.