VIDEO PRODUCER: NAMAN SHAH
VIDEO EDITOR: ABHISHEK SHARMA
The fate of 40 Assembly seats is at stake as the state of Goa goes to the polls on 14 February. With as many as eight national and regional parties in the fray, India's smallest state boasts of a rich history of defections, horse-trading, and fractured mandates.
Having been in power for 10 years, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, is facing stiff competition from a bunch of parties in the Opposition, which include the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, and the TMC-MGP alliance.
This will also be the first Assembly election for the BJP after the death of its stalwart former chief minister Manohar Parrikar – largely credited for being the architect of BJP in Goa. The Congress, on the other hand, is looking to course correct and avoid mistakes of the past; in 2017, the party was unable to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party in the state with 17 seats.
Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), meanwhile, has made steady inroads in the state and has entered the battlefield with a chief ministerial face (Amit Palekar) this time around.
While it remains to be seen who wins the trust of Goans, here's a list of candidates and constituencies to watch out for:
Pramod Sawant: Incumbent Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is all set to contest the election from Sanquelim Assembly constituency in North Goa. Sawant, who has won the seat twice in 2012 and 2017, is pitted against Congress' Dharmesh Saglani.
Digambar Kamat: The current Leader of the Opposition in Goa, Kamat was the chief minister of the state from 2007 to 2012 and was succeeded by BJP's Manohar Parrikar. A seven-time MLA, he is contesting from the Margao constituency as a Congress candidate. Up against Kamat in Margao is the state's Deputy Chief Minister Babu Azgaonkar.
Elvis Gomes: Former AAP state-convener and bureaucrat Elvis Gomes made headlines when he joined the Congress in 2021. Gomes has been fielded against BJP heavyweight Atanasio Monserrate in the capital city of Panaji.
Amit Palekar: An advocate by profession, Palekar is AAP's chief ministerial face in the elections. Coming from the OBC Bhandari community, which makes up 35% of Goa's population, Palekar has been fielded by the party from St Cruz.
Laxmikant Parsekar: Contesting from the Mandrem constituency as an Independent candidate, Parsekar took over as the chief minister of Goa in 2014 after Manohar Parrikar's resignation. He, however, resigned from the party in January, after he was denied a BJP ticket from Mandrem.
Michael Lobo: Goa's richest candidate and Bardez strongman, Michael Lobo, is contesting the elections from his home seat of Calangute as a Congress candidate. Lobo, who held the portfolios of port and waste management under chief minister Pramod Sawant recently, quit the BJP after his wife Delilah Lobo was denied a ticket by the party.
Utpal Parrikar: Son of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, Utpal Parrikar quit the BJP after local heavyweight Atanasio Monserrate was given the ticket from Panaji. Parrikar junior will now be contesting as an Independent from the capital city.
Utpal Parrikar vs Atanasio Monserrate vs Elvis Gomes
The capital city of Panaji is all set to witness a high-stakes 3-way battle between BJP's Atanasio Monserrate, Utpal Parrikar, and former AAP state-convener and now Congress leader Elvis Gomes. Monserrate, seeking election from Panaji for a second time, faces charges of rape, rioting, and assault – all of which he has denied. He joined the BJP along with a few other MLAs from the Congress 2019 as part of a mass defection.
Poriem: Former Goa chief minister and senior Congress leader Pratapsingh Rane bowed out of the fight in Poriem last-minute after the BJP fielded his daughter-in-law Divya Rane from the seat. The constituency will now see a high-octane battle between Divya Rane and Ranjeetsingh Rane, son of Jaysingh Rao Rane – the first MLA to represent the erstwhile Sattari constituency which was later bifurcated into Poriem and Valpoi.
Digambar Kamat (Congress) vs Manohar Ajgaonkar (BJP)
South Goa's district headquarters Margao will see a prestige battle between former Goa chief minister and Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat and tourism minister in the current BJP government Manohar Ajagaonkar.
While Ajagaonkar has never represented the constituency before, Kamat has been representing the Margao constituency since 1994 – first on a BJP ticket and then as a Congress legislator.
Vijay Sardesai (GFP) Vs Seola Vas (TMC)
Former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro took everyone by surprise after he backed out from the contest in Fatorda. Faleiro, who was nominated for the seat by the TMC, said he did not want to limit himself to just one seat and that he would campaign for the party across Goa.
The TMC then fielded Seola Vas against GFP supremo Vijai Sardesai.