According to an official at the Goa’s State Election Commission, the results for the two assembly seats, including Panaji, from where chief minister Manohar Parrikar is contesting, will be out by 9.30am. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
According to an official at the Goa’s State Election Commission, the results for the two assembly seats, including Panaji, from where chief minister Manohar Parrikar is contesting, will be out by 9.30am. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Assembly bypolls: Counting of votes begins in Goa, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh

Voting for the assembly seats of Panaji and Valpoi in Goa, Bawana in Delhi, and Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh was held on 23 August

Mumbai/Delhi/Hyderabad: Counting of votes for the two assembly seats in Goa, and one each in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh, began at 8am on Monday. Voting for the assembly seats of Panaji and Valpoi in Goa, Bawana in Delhi, and Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh was held on 23 August.

According to an official at the Goa’s State Election Commission, the results for the two assembly seats, including Panaji, from where chief minister Manohar Parrikar is contesting, will be out by 9.30am. “The constituencies in Goa are small and normally it should not take more than one and half hours to declare the results," the official said requesting anonymity.

The Nandyal bypoll in Andhra Pradesh, which saw a record high turnout of more than 80%, is very significant for chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

In Delhi, the Bawana bypoll is a contest among three major players—the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress which is trying to win its lone seat in the Delhi assembly.

The Panaji bypoll is significant for Parrikar and the ruling BJP, which cobbled up a coalition in Goa after it won only 13 seats in the February 2017 elections. Parrikar, sworn in as chief minister in March, is not a member of the assembly and has to be elected within six months. The Congress has fielded All India Congress Committee secretary Girish Chodankar against Parrikar. Panaji saw a turnout of 70% as against 78.8 % in February 2017 when BJP candidate Siddharth Kuncalienkar won by only 919 votes. Kuncalienkar resigned his seat in May making way for Parrikar and reducing the BJP tally in Goa to 12.

While Parrikar has exuded confidence about a “substantial victory", a loss would be a massive setback for him and the BJP. Parrikar, on his own volition, had resigned as the defence minister in March to move back to Goa as the chief minister. The move was criticised by the Congress, which won 17 seats but could not form a coalition with smaller parties. The Congress strength, however, went down to 16 after Vishwajit Rane resigned his Valpoi seat and joined the BJP. He is now contesting from the Valpoi seat on a BJP ticket. The Congress has fielded Roy Naik from Valpoi.

If both Parrikar and Rane win, the BJP strength will go up to 14.

In the 40-member Goa assembly, a negative outcome in Panaji could seriously affect the stability of the BJP-led government and the Congress could make a bid to form the government. “It would be an embarrassment of an epic scale, to say the least, if Parrikar loses. Personally for him and the BJP leadership also which agreed to send him back to Goa to lead the coalition," said a BJP functionary in Goa, requesting anonymity.

Results for the assembly constituency of Bawana in North-West Delhi will also be announced on Monday. A win in the reserved constituency of Delhi is key for AAP, BJP and the Congress as they look to expand their political footprint in the city state.

For AAP, which has been faced by a series of electoral losses, a win could boost the party’s image and also give the AAP-led Delhi government to showcase some of the work they have done. Currently, AAP has 65 legislators in the assembly, while the BJP has four. While the BJP is looking to increase its seat tally in the assembly, the bypoll is an opportunity for the Congress to re-enter the house.

Bawana saw a voter turnout of 45%, which was much less than the turnout in 2015 of approximately 62%.

The assembly seat of Bawana, one of Delhi’s largest constituencies, fell vacant after AAP legislator Ved Prakash resigned from his seat and party to join the BJP. The result on Monday will also decide Prakash’s fate as he has contested on a BJP ticket. In 2015, the AAP won the seat by over 50,000 votes.

A total of eight candidates contested the election in the constituency, which has approximately 300,000 electors.

AAP fielded party worker from Bawana and former member of the Bahujan Samaj Party Ram Chandra as its candidate, while three-time MLA Surendra Kumar contested from the Congress.

The Nandyal seat in Andhra Pradesh fell vacant after sitting MLA Bhuma Nagi Reddy died of a cardiac arrest in March. Having won on a YSRCP ticket in the 2014 general elections, he had defected to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) about a year ago along with his daughter and Allagadda MLA Bhuma Akhila Priya, who is the state’s minister for culture and tourism.

The Andhra Pradesh byelection is expected to set the tone for the 2019 general elections with regard to the winning party. The ruling TDP and main opposition YSRCP campaigned heavily in the run-up to the bypoll. CM Naidu has staked it all in the bypoll and a loss for the TDP would be a severe jolt for the party chief ahead of the 2019 general elections.

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