Panaji, April 12: Voters came out in overwhelming numbers Saturday, breaking all records as Goa saw a whopping 76.82 percent of its over one million electorate exercising their franchise in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The turnout is a rise from over half of the electorate (55.36 percent in 2009) to over three-fourths now. The electorate for the state’s two seats is 1,057,499.
According to poll officials, 78.60 percent voters cast their ballot in North Goa, while in South Goa 75.14 percent voters exercised their franchise.
Chief electoral officer (CEO) Keshav Chandra said that no poll-related untoward incident was reported through the day.
The main contenders for the North Goa seat are sitting MP Shripad Yesso Naik of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ravi Naik of the Congress and Dattaram Desai from the Aam Aadmi Party.
Aleixo Reginaldo from the Congress and BJP’s Narendra Savoikar faced each other in the South Goa seat.
Leaders from both the Congress, as well as the BJP, have appropriated the jump in voting percentage claiming victories for their respective parties.
Parrikar cast ballot at the Massan de Amorim polling booth in the capital early Saturday minutes after polling started at 7 a.m.
He said the BJP would win both seats as voters have come out in large numbers to vote out the corrupt Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
“Goa does not see lines like these in the Lok Sabha election otherwise,” Parrikar said.
The chief minister also described the Congress’s condition as a “desperate party” that is about to lose power.
Congress candidate Naik however said the increase in vote was fuelled by the fear of Narendra Modi becoming prime minister and dissatisfaction with the state BJP-led government.
“The people are afraid about Modi and disgusted with Manohar Parrikar’s rule. That’s why the increase,” Naik claimed.
Chandra, however attributed the increase in voting percentage to heightened levels of awareness especially amongst the young voters.
“It was encouraging to see young voters sensitising the older voters asking them to come to the polling booth and cast ballot,” he said, adding that 28,646 new young voters were eligible to vote during the general elections here.
Chandra also said that this spurt had helped Goa beat its previous Lok Sabha polling record of 61 percent in 1998.
Goa’s mining belt, which has been at the receiving end of a ban on mining imposed by the Supreme Court for well over a year now, saw overwhelming voting.
Sanquelim assembly constituency in North Goa and Sanvordem in South Goa polled the highest percentage of votes – 84.74 percent and 82.21 percent respectively. Both the assembly constituents are a part of the mining belt in Goa’s hinterland.
While polling peaceful political parties and their candidates however filed a few complaints with the CEO over code of conduct violations.
The AAP, which is contesting both the seats, has demanded a re-poll claiming that the ‘Battery Torch’ symbol of the Rashtriya Samajwadi Party (RSP) had been illegally tweaked and had close resemblance to the Aam Aadmi Party’s symbol ‘Broom’.
The Congress too filed a complaint with the CEO accusing Parrikar of flouting poll norms, by campaigning on Facebook for the BJP and its two candidates.
BJP’s Savoikar also complained against a weekly newspaper accusing it of trying to inflame passions and create divisions amongst communities with its coverage in the latest edition.
The electorate is evenly balanced between men and women and 12.88 percent are in the 18-25 year age group.
Voting which began at 7 a.m. was carried out across 1,622 polling booths until 6 p.m.