Panaji, March 9: The 2017 Assembly elections in the state of Goa will pave the way for the 16th government to take control of India’s smallest state since it inception in June 1962. The assembly elections were held in a single phase on the 4th of February 2017, the results of which will be formally announced by the Election Commission of India on 11th March 2017.

The polls are particularly important as for the first time, the Aam Aadmi Part has tried its hands in the Goan electoral process. With a total of 39 candidates, the party has fielded the maximum number of contestants from any party in the current polls. The Indian National Congress (INC) has fielded 37 candidates and are closely followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 36 candidates.

The BJP’s manifesto for the Goa polls has two main pitches, job creation and development. The party has also promised employment opportunities in the MOPA airport project. The party, however, did not touch upon the issues of casinos and the mining industry, a key issue

The BJP’s manifesto for the Goa polls has two main pitches, job creation and development. The party has also promised employment opportunities in the MOPA airport project. The party, however, did not touch upon the issues of casinos and the mining industry, a key issue upon which it won the 2012 Assembly elections in the state.

The elections play a crucial role for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s politics in the country. A clear victory or even a significant lead would indicate the acceptance of the policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Union government. Prime among them would be the significant demonetisation policy launched on November 8, 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  (ALSO READ: Goa Assembly Elections 2017 Opinion Poll Results: BJP to secure thumping majority, AAP comes a close second)

The victory would further cement the possibility of a return to power in the Union government by the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Meanwhile, the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party would mean the clear expansion of the party as a national power with influence in major regions of the country. The Congress party, however, has to remain careful of not losing minimal power for fear of getting erased from the political scene of India.

The ruling BJP government in the state had fielded candidates in 37 out of total 40 constituencies for the upcoming polls. However, the party has decided to support independent candidates contesting from Vellim, Benaulim and Nuvem area. There is no clarity on who the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate will be. While rumours are rife that the incumbent Chief Minister, Laxmikanth Parsekar will continue as the Chief Minister if the party wins the elections, there could be a change of choice made depending on the final results.

A crucial deciding factor for the BJP’s victory in the Assembly elections in Goa, are the votes of Catholics. The religious denomination forms 28 percent of the state’s population. While the BJP had mostly campaigned in the northern regions of the state, that are predominantly Hindu dominated, the party cannot afford to completely lose the votes of the community. Catholics are mainly spread across South Goa and comprise 28 percent of the state’s population.

A total of 251 candidates are contesting the Assembly elections for 40 legislative assembly seats. The candidates, comprising of 19 female representatives, belong mainly to four political groups; The Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress party and the three-party alliance of the Maharashtrwadi Gomnatak Party (MGP), the Shiv Sena (SS) and the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) parties. Exit polls will be released by major agencies for the Goa polls tomorrow. However, the formal results of the Goa Assembly elections 2017 will be announced on March 11, 2017.