Slow polling in Goa (Lead)

Panaji, April 23 (Inditop) Barring a few polling stations in the mining belt, voting for the Lok Sabha elections was on at a snail’s pace in Goa Thursday, officials said.

The election is being held for the two Lok Sabha constituencies North Goa and South Goa, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are heading for a straight fight.

The chief electoral office here revealed that till 11 a.m. only 10.44 percent of the votes were polled in North Goa, while the response in South Goa was poorer at 8.44 percent.

Officials said the mining belt of Curchorem was the only region where long queues were seen outside polling stations. The rest of the polling stations in the state, including those in urban areas, wore a deserted look.

Polling in the coastal belt too was sluggish with almost no queues witnessed in high population density areas like Anjuna, Candolim and Verem in North Goa.

Polling stations in Betalbatim saw around 15 percent voting by 11 a.m.

Poll officials said that the soaring mercury may dissuade voters from visiting the stations and hinted that the voting percentage could drop further.

The North Goa seat – taking in 20 assembly constituencies – has seven candidates in the fray. The important among them are Shripad Naik of the BJP and Jitendra Deshprabhu of the NCP.

The main contestants in South Goa – with 20 more assembly constituencies – are Narendra Sawaikar of the BJP and Francisco Sardinha of the Congress.

Officials said 132 stations in North Goa and 73 in South Goa have been termed critical but no untoward incident had been reported till 11 a.m.

This is the first time that Goa has not been sanctioned any paramilitary personnel by the centre to conduct the polls.

“We are conducting the polls with the exclusive help of our 6,500 strong police force and home guards,” Collector K.S. Singh told IANS, adding that the state government’s request for a dozen companies of paramilitary forces had not been approved by the central government.

Superintendent of Police Tony Fernandes said National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets have also been roped in for poll duties.

Goa Police’s marine wing have also been instructed to patrol the Arabian Sea and the river channels.