Curtains down on poll campaign

PANAJI: Five o’ clock on Thursday evening saw the curtains pulled down on campaigning in the 40 constituencies that will go to the polls on March 3 in Goa ending a month long hectic, albeit low key, electioneering in five states.

The polling will begin at 7 a.m and end at 5 p.m across Goa. An estimated 10, 26,306 voters  are expected to vote and decide the fate of 215 candidates, including 9 women, at 1,612 polling stations manned by 10,644 poll personnel and more than 3,500 security officers, Joint Chief Electoral Officer Mr N S Navti told media.
Among the polling booths, 114 locations of polling booths have been designated as critical and 66 vulnerable.
The 40 constituencies include one reserved constituency, that is in North Goa and the main battle is expected to be between the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party and the BJP-Maharshtrawadi Gomantak Party combines, with rebels and the Trinamool Congress expected to play spoilers.
The state which has already seen 14 governments in 15 years between 1990 and 2005, sees the Congress fielding 33 candidates and NCP seven while the BJP has fielded 27 candidates and is supporting four independents while the MGP has fielded eight  candidates.
The BJP has given seven tickets to Catholic candidates in a bid to make inroads into the Congress’ traditional vote bank and out of the four independents it is supporting, 3 are Catholics.
The Trinamool is fielding 20 candidates, while the former tourism  minister, Mr Francisco ‘Mickky’ Pacheco’s Goa Vikas Party is fielding nine candidates and he himself is locked in a head-to-head no holds barred contest with Congress candidate Mr Aleixo Sequeira. Mr Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and JD (U) are also in the fray.