Goa: Assembly elections

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Congress 17/ 40 seats, BJP 13

Vijay DeSouza & Murari Shetye, Congress and BJP surf tricky waves in Goa, AAP drowns, March 12, 2017: The Times of India

The region-wise performance of the parties in Goa in the assembly elections of 2012 and 2017; Vijay DeSouza & Murari Shetye, Congress and BJP surf tricky waves in Goa, AAP drowns, March 12, 2017: The Times of India

 Despite a strong proModi sentiment in most of the five states that went to the polls, BJP found itself faltering in Goa as Union defence minister and former CM Manohar Parrikar failed to pull off a 2012 encore for the party.Congress has emerged as the single largest party , winning 17 of the state's 40 seats, while BJP has won 13.

After the results came in, both the national parties were trying to stitch together a coalition with smaller parties and Independents. Ramkrishna `Sudin' Dhavalikar's Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Vijai Sardesai's Goa Forward party (GFP) hold the key to government formation, having won three seats each. Also important are the three Independents -Prasad Gaonkar (Sanguem), Congress-supported Rohan Khaunte (Porvorim), and BJP-supported Govind Gaude (Priol).

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who is in Goa, said the party would stake claim to government formation, and was waiting for a positive response from the Independents and regional parties. The party is just four seats shy of a simple majority in the House. “The meeting with the elected MLAs was supposed to be held on Saturday but because the results were declared late, we have postponed our meeting to 11am on Sunday . Once the Congress Legislature Party is formed, we will meet the governor and stake claim to form the government,“ Singh said. While Singh accepted that the party was in talks to form a coalition, he refused to specify the terms and conditions of the negotiations.

Sources said Khaunte and MGP were most likely going to ally with Congress.

Congress members seem averse to an alliance with GFP, especially on account of the vitriolic statements made by Sardesai against the Congress brass in the run-up to the elections. A decision on Congress' possible chief ministerial candidate is also likely to be taken on Sunday . There are indications that former Goa CM Digambar Kamat may be tasked with the post once again.

Saffron emergency

Feverish discussions were also under way within BJP on Saturday , with the party core committee convening an emergency meeting after results for discussions on how to form the next government in the state.

At the meeting, it was decided that BJP should hold negotiations with MGP and GFP to make it past the halfway mark in the assembly .BJP has won 13 seats and one Independent supported by the party has won too.

BJP national president Amit Shah as well as former Goa CM and Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar expressed confidence on Saturday that the saffron party would assume office in the state for a second consecutive term.

“We will definitely get in touch with them (MGP and GFP) as no one has got a clear mandate. BJP won the largest voteshare (32.5%),“ Parrikar said at a press conference. He is also said to have shown “high interest“ in returning to the state and assuming charge as CM in case the party manages to put together a coalition. Another option on the table, offering the CM post to MGP's Ramakrishna `Sudin' Dhavalikar, with BJP offering “outside support“, has met resistance within BJP.Some BJP members believe the party should take the lead in government formation. Deputy CM Francis D'Souza may be BJP's second, and only , choice for CM in case it forges an alliance but wants to retain Parrikar at the Centre.This because at least a dozen senior party members lost their seats.

Debutant distressed

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has drawn a blank on its electoral debut in Goa. The party's state convener Elvis Gomes said AAP would continue to build itself in Goa, adding, “Within the short span of time that was available to us (for 2017 polls), we couldn't do as much as we would have liked.“

An assembly of football enthusiasts

Churchill Alemao's return to the Goa legislative assembly from Benaulim was cheered by the state's growing fraternity of football lovers, and he marked his win by announcing free entry for Sunday's crucial I-League clash between his team, Churchill Brothers SC, and Shillong Lajong FC at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco.“All our fans and those who support football in general must come to the stadium. Entry will be free,“ Alemao told TOI on Wednesday.Alemao's passion for football is well documented, but he is not the lone new Goa legislator with a love for the sport. Aldona MLA Glen Ticlo, a former state footballer, takes deep interest in the Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) while Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes, who represented Goa in the 1973 National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy in Kerala, is an avowed football fan . Other football enthusiasts in the Goa assembly include St Andre MLA Francisco Silveira, Filipe Nery Rodrigues (Velim) and Clafacio Dias (Cuncolim).

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