The Election Commission on Saturday announced that the assembly elections in Goa will be conducted on February 14 in a single phase. The term for current assembly ends in March. The EC said elections in five poll-bound states will be completed in seven phases.
With the announcement of the Assembly elections schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force across Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur.
This is the second tranche of state elections to be held in India since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu had voted during the second coronavirus wave in March-April 2020. This time too, Omicron-triggered third Covid-19 wave has forced political parties to alter plans for election rallies.
Chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra said political parties and candidates are advised to conduct campaign through digital mode, while free time on Doordarshan has been doubled for political parties in view of Covid-19. The ECI has cancelled roadshows, padyatras and rallies by candidates till January 15.
While chief minister Pramod Sawant-led BJP government is ruling the state at present, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Trinamool Congress will be surprise elements this election, even as Congress is also in the fray.
Aam Aadmi Party
The AAP on Friday announced its first list of candidates for the assembly elections. Announcing the candidates for 10 constituencies, AAP has picked former BJP MLAs Alina Saldanha and Mahadev Naik, former Congress women’s wing president Pratima Coutinho and some activists too.
Venzy Viegas has been picked for Benaulim constituency, while Abhijit Dessai will contest from Sanguem. The party has decided to field advocate Amit Palekar from St Cruz constituency, Vishwajit K Rane from Poriem, Satyavijay Naik from Valpoi and Premanand Naoskar from Dabolim.
Saldanha will contest from Cortalim. Coutinho, as expected, will stand for elections in Navelim, while Mahadev Naik will try to get elected from Shiroda. Domnic Gaonkar will contest from Curtorim. Delhi MLA and AAP Goa desk in-charge Atishi Marlena released the list of candidates.
The Trinamool Congress has proposed a larger alliance of the Opposition parties, including the Congress, to take on the ruling BJP in the coastal state. BJP leader and Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane, however, said that the proposal was put forward as “parties like the MGP, AAP and TMC could not get any traction on their own".
Ahead of the polls, five primary members of the state’s Trinamool Congress, including former legislator Lavoo Mamlatdar, resigned within three months of joining the All India Trinamool Congress. Apart from Mamlatdar, other local leaders including Ram Mandrekar, Kishor Parwar, Komal Parwar and Sujay Mallick.
Lavoo Mamlatdar, a former Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLA from Ponda, had joined the All India Trinamool Congress party in the last week of September. Former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro was also inducted into the party.
Manohar Parrikar’s Son Wants Ticket Too
The sons of two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwarts have announced their intention to contest in the imminent Goa assembly elections. Utpal Parrikar, son of late Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, has said that the people of his father’s constituency, Panaji, are happy with him and the party should consider his candidature. Asked whether he might contest as an independent candidate, Utpal refused to comment on it, saying he only wants the BJP to think over his possible nomination.
Siddesh Shripad Naik, son of union minister of state Shripad Yesso Naik, however, sounded upbeat about securing a ticket. “I have been working for the party since 2003 and held many posts including president from the constituency, Cumbarjua, where I want to contest. I have won the zilla panchayat polls on a party ticket with a big margin," he said.
Goa’s ‘Green’ Elections
A report in India Today stated that with 40 assembly seats, Goa is set to hold elections in an eco-friendly manner without any plastic and using natural materials. From bamboo bins, baskets to coconut shells this election season, Goa will have all things local and eco-friendly. On polling day, voters will get to cast their vote in a bamboo booth, get their selfies clicked in booths made of coconut leaves.