Congress, BJP poised to share spoils in Goa

CM Sawant consolidates BJP’s position in coalition govt. by winning three of four Assembly seats in bypolls

May 23, 2019 11:15 am | Updated May 24, 2019 12:19 am IST - Panaji

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and (right) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant at BJP’s Vijay Sankalp rally at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium at Taleigao plateau in Goa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and (right) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant at BJP’s Vijay Sankalp rally at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium at Taleigao plateau in Goa.

Goa yielded mixed results for the BJP with the party winning one Lok Sabha seat but losing the other and winning three of the four Assembly bypolls on Thursday.

The party, however, lost the prestigious Panaji Assembly seat, which was held by the ruling party since 1994, largely represented by late Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

The winning of the three Assembly bypolls has strengthened the BJP-led coalition government in the State, according to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik won the North Goa Lok Sabha seat for the fifth consecutive term by over 80,247 votes defeating his nearest Congress rival Girish Chodankar who polled 1,64,597 votes.

Sitting BJP South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar conceded defeat even before the final votes could be tallied. Mr. Sawaikar polled 1,91,581 votes as against the Congress’s Francisco Sardinha, a former Chief Minister who polled 2,00,972 votes.

“I accept my defeat. I thank everyone for the support and cooperation throughout my tenure as MP,” Mr. Sawaikar said in a social media post.

The significant loss for the Goa BJP was its defeat in the Panaji Assembly seat.

“It is time to put Panaji on the development track after 25 years of inefficiency,” the Congress’ Atanasio Monserrate said, after defeating BJP’s Sidharth Kuncalienkar by 1,758 votes in the seat.

Mr. Chodankar, the State Congress president, accepted responsibility for the party’s defeat in the North Goa seat, as well as the three State Assembly bypolls.

“But by winning the prestigious Panaji assembly bypoll, the Congress has ‘wrested the heart’ of Goa from BJP,” said the Goa Congress president, adding, “the Congress has won it this time after 25 years. I want to thank the people of Panaji for it.”

BJP’s Dayanand Sopte, Subhash Shirodkar, and Joshua D’Souza won the Assembly bypolls from Shiroda, Mandrem, and Mapusa, the latter two with relatively narrow margins.

Mr. Sawant said the three bypoll wins, which took his party’s tally to 17 in the 40-member Goa Assembly, would lend further stability to his coalition government. The BJP-led government now has a strength of 23 in 40-member House with the Congress having 15 MLAs and the MGP and the NCP, one each.

The Goa Forward Party, the three-member alliance partner of the BJP, has already appeared to have fallen in line, especially with the mammoth victory of the Modi-Shah combination.

“As partners in the NDA, I congratulate you on your personal victory and your party’s. May this historic win paves the way for even closer partnership between our parties in the State and help take Goa forward,” Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, who is also the president of the Goa Forward Party, said.

1,88,569 votes. Aam Aadmi Party’s Elvis Gomes polled over 19,702 votes. However, as many as 5,023 voters opted for NOTA (none of the above).

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