Goa Poll Day Diary

Over half of Goa’s voters have exercised their franchise by 1 pm on Saturday, with a turnout of 53%; reports of EVM malfunctions in several booths

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

NH Political Bureau

Freebies seized by officials

Officials claim to have seized gold and silver jewellery, besides two wheelers, mobiles, wrist watches, water coolers and liquor among other things meant for distribution among voters, reported Nav Hind Times. While cash and liquor were familiar to law-enforcement agencies as the most sought-after by voters, the jewellery this time came as a surprise, they say.

Will poll surveys be proved wrong?

With several new parties in the fray besides the BJP and Congress, predicting the poll outcome in Goa is tricky. While poll pundits have played it safe by saying that contests will be close and the margin of victories will be small, poll surveys have had no inhibition in declaring a clear majority for, well, all the parties! Different surveys have given different parties between 20-26 seats, amusing the voters no end. Because barring the last election in 2012, it was difficult for a political party to bag more than 17 of the 40 seats. Confusion has been confounded by the entry of several new parties like Goa Forward Party and Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), and the latter’s alliance with MGP and Shiv Sena. Goans, said several local newspapers on Saturday, could well throw up a surprise and prove poll surveys wrong.

Parrikar defies the EC

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar defied the Election Commission by not responding to the ECI’s notice on violation of the Model Code of Conduct by him. The notice was sent to him after the ECI received complaints and went through the report sent by local officials. But though the EC wanted his reply by Friday this week, the union minister and former chief minister sought more time. With polling in Goa taking place on Saturday, it means that Parrikar unilaterally decided to send in his reply after the polling, knowing fully well that the ECI would be able to do nothing even if it finds his reply unsatisfactory. And even if the EC takes a token step, it would not affect polling.

Both Arvind Kejriwal of AAP as well as Parrikar are accused of exhorting voters to accept bribes in cash but vote for their respective party. Kejriwal had responded to the ECI notice by confirming that he had indeed said such a thing. The Election Commission had then ordered the police to file a case against the Delhi chief minister which perhaps made him camp in Punjab over the last several days of campaigning in Goa. By not replying at all, Parrikar has ensured that no action is taken against him before polling.

Pink polling booth

The Election Commission has put up one pink booth in every constituency, both staffed by women and meant for women voters. With the total electorate barely exceeding a million in the state, officials were also able to indulge in greeting women voters with a miniature teddy bear as a token of appreciation for the trouble they took. The idea could be useful in ensuring greater participation by women in elections elsewhere in the country.

First state to use VVPAT

Over 11 lakh voters will decide the fate of 251 candidates in Goa’s 40 constituencies, at 1,642 polling booths in the state. Goa will be the first state to experience the ECI’s Voter-verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machine, which have been installed along with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The VVPAT machines help the voters to ascertain that their vote has gone to the candidate for whom they voted through the EVM.

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Published: 04 Feb 2017, 1:48 PM