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BJP, Congress in upbeat mood as campaigning for bypolls ends

first_imgThe 20-day campaign for the by-election to the Panaji and Valpoi Assembly constituencies ended peacefully on Monday evening. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress claimed to win both the seats, which go to the polls on Wednesday. Results will be declared on August 28. Election Commission authorities here said on Monday that they are fully geared up to hold free and fair elections.In Panaji, 22,300 voters and in Valpoi 26,000 voters are eligible to cast their votes in the by-election that will decide the fate of the Manohar Parrikar-headed State government. The Chief Minister is contesting the election in Panaji for the sixth time and has been pitted against All India Congress Committee Secretary Girish Chodankar and Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) chief Anand Shirodkar. Mr. Chodankar entered the fray after two candidates of the Congress shied away from contesting against Mr. Parrikar. The candidates have promised a congestion-free Panaji, ousting casinos from river Mandovi and moving out government offices from Panaji.In Valpoi, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, the son of former Goa chief Minister and senior Congress legislator Pratapsingh Rane, is fighting the bypolls on BJP ticket. Mr. Rane resigned as a Congress legislator to join the BJP after the Assembly elections in February this year. He is pitted against Roy Naik, son for former Congress chief minister and senior Congress legislator Ravi Naik. Mr. Rane’s father has kept himself away from the Valpoi by-election and has decline to join the campaign. Around seven candidates are in the fray for the bypolls.On Monday, Mr. Parrikar exuded confidence of emerging victorious by a good margin. He publicly appealed to the voters of Panaji to “give a respectable margin of victory befitting a Chief Minister.” Mr. Chodankar claimed that the voters would elect him and restore the democracy “strangulated by Mr. Parrikar by hijacking people’s mandate” given to the Congress in the Assembly election.Fierce online campaignCampaigning of the bypolls remained low-key with both parties resorting to door-to-door campaigning. However, the battle of Panaji was fought with much ferocity on social media platforms. Mr. Parrikar was targeted in particular with videos of his “legendary U turns” being posted online. Mr. Parrikar’s stances on stopping grants to English medium primary schools, setting deadlines to rid Mandovi of offshore casinos and claiming the previous election would be his last came in for ridicule. The debates and the campaign online, especially pertaining to the Panaji seat, came to a flashpoint when the BJP filed a complaint with the Election Commission and the Cyber police over a news report that quoted Mr. Parrikar saying that he would return as Defence Minister if he was defeated in Panaji bypoll. The most popular videos online turned out to be parodies. A group backed by the GSM released the ‘Monu song’ (a taunting reference to Mr. Parrikar). Composer and singer Sidhanath Buyao’s “Bhai parody” also received huge hits. Mr. Parrikar’s supporters hit back releasing their own song thrashing the Congress.Mr. Parrikar even publicly cautioned his supporters to be wary of rampant misuse of social media platforms during the campaign. Mr. Parrikar emphasised on corner meetings to connect with voters in Panaji. Meanwhile, Mr. Vishwajit Rane opted for door-to-door campaigning to reach out to the electorate. ‘No faith in govt.’Goa Congress president Shantaram Naik alleged that the Congress could not match the BJP in the money spent for the bypolls. He expressed confidence that the people would vote for the Congress as they have lost faith in the BJP government. He claimed that the BJP behaved in a high-handed manner while forming the government after it did not win the majority in the Assembly election. He said the Congress had emerged as the largest party and was the rightful contender to form the government.The BJP’s coalition partners, including Goa Forward Party, Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party and independent MLAs, have came out in the open to support the party’s candidates.last_img

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