Panaji by-poll records 71% voter turnout

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PANAJI: As many as 15,704 voters, from among 22,057 eligible voters (10,722 males and 11,335 females),  turned up to record their votes in the electronic voting machines for the by-election to the Panaji assembly constituency held on Friday, thereby registering 71.20 per cent voter turnout.

Election officials declared the polling as the most peaceful election.

As per the details provided by the election authorities at the end of the polling, as many as 7,668 male voters (71.52 per cent) cast their votes, while the number of female voters has been put at 8,036 (70.90 per cent).

The fate of the four candidates has been sealed in the EVMs and the votes would be counted on Monday (February 16).

Those in the fray for the by-election include Bharatiya Janata Party nominee Sidharth Kunkalienkar, Congress candidate Surendra Furtado, and two Independents – Samir Kelekar and Sadanand Vaigankar.

Though voting was peaceful there was a minor duel between the Congress candidate and the BJP workers at Boca de Vaca over the issue of placement of a polling agent. In another incident, a booth-level official was replaced after the Congress candidate’s election agent complained against him for trying to influence voters as they walked to the polling booth No 21.

The polling was brisk throughout the day with voters walking into the 30 polling booths in the constituency and coming out within minutes after casting votes. Small queues were seen in the morning hours, as the people, unaware of change in polling time from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. rushed to the polling booths only to find themselves waiting in queues.

In the by-election, there has been a drop of 7.65 votes as compared to 2012 assembly election. In the 2012 assembly elections to the state assembly 16,471 people had voted in the constituency of whom 8,618 were women while the number of male voters was 7,853.

In the last parliamentary elections in 2014,  8, 325 females voted while the number of male voters was 7,742.

Highest number of votes 576 from a possible 694 (83 per cent) were recorded in the polling booth number 21 located in the office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. The lowest votes 520 (61.54 per cent) from among 845 eligible voters were recorded in the polling booth number 28 located in the PWD office at Tonca.

Joint chief electoral officer Narayan Navati said the campaigning as well as voting was peaceful all throughout. He also said that none of 30 EVMs failed or malfunctioned either during the voting or mock trial held earlier.

In the last assembly elections, Manohar Parrikar, who represented the constituency since 1994, had won the election by a margin of over 6,000 votes. Parrikar of the BJP had polled 11,086 votes as compared to 5,018 votes polled by Congress candidate Yatin Parekh.

The by-election was necessitated following the resignation as city MLA by Parrikar after he became Defence Minister.