Campaign ended on Sunday evening for elections to Goa’s two Lok Sabha constituencies and by-polls to three Assembly seats to be held on April 23. Polling will be held in a single phase for North Goa and South Goa Lok Sabha constituencies and Shiroda, Mapusa and Mandrem Assembly seats. The by-elections in Shiroda and Mandrem were necessitated after their sitting Congress MLAs resigned and joined the ruling BJP. The Mapusa seat fell vacant following the death of its sitting BJP MLA Francis D’Souza.
Total 12 candidates are in the fray for the two Lok Sabha constituencies while there are 18 nominees for the three Assembly seats.
The campaigns of main rivals BJP and Congress were laced with allegations and counter-allegations over various issues, including mining suspension and fall in tourism revenue in the coastal state.
While the BJP brought in its top campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanavis, the Congress’ big leaders were largely absent from the campaign scene.
Former actor and Congress leader Nagma canvassed for her party candidates in the coastal state.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal also addressed a public meeting at Margao in support of his party candidates.
The BJP has fielded its sitting MP and Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik from North Goa against Congress’ nominee Girish Chodankar, who is the opposition party’s state chief.
The AAP has nominated its state general secretary Pradeep Padgaonkar from the seat.
In South Goa, BJP’s sitting MP Narendra Sawaikar is pitted against Congress’ former parliamentarian Francis Sardinha, AAP’s Goa convenor Elvis Gomes and Shiv Sena state vice president Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik.
In the Shiroda Assembly seat by-poll, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) president Deepak Dhavalikar is locked in a battle against BJP candidate Subhash Shirodkar, Congress’ Mahadev Naik, AAP nominee Yogesh Khandeparkar and Santosh Satarkar of the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM).
In Mapusa Assembly seat, BJP’s Joshua D’Souza is pitted against Congress nominee Sudhir Kandolkar, GSM’s Nandan Sawant and AAP’s Shekhar Naik.
Besides, in Mandrem Assembly seat, BJP candidate Dayanand Sopte is fighting against Congress’ Babi Bagkar, Independent candidate Jit Arolkar and GSM’s Swaroop Naik.
During the poll campaigning, the state chief electoral officer received several complaints, including against a Christian priest, of violation of the code of conduct.
The priest later issued an apology over his remarks against BJP president Amit Shah, Modi and Goa’s late chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Election Commission gave a clean chit to Kejriwal following complaint by a local BJP leader that he tried to incite religious sentiments and create fear among the state’s Muslims and Christians.
After the enforcement over the model code of conduct, the flying squads seized cash, liquor and drugs worth around Rs 2.8 crore across the state.
More than 1,600 polling booths have been set up for the elections in Goa which would be guarded by the state police and paramilitary forces.