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High octane Panjim, Valpoi by-polls today

Panjim: The fate of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Health Minister VIhswajit Rane will be sealed on Wednesday. Over 51,000 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for the Panjim and Valpoi by-elections. The by-polls are crucial as they will decide the fate of the Parrikar government. Parrikar needs to win the election to continue as Chief Minister. He is currently a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh. The by-elections are important to Congress which hopes to win both seats to topple the Parrikar government. BJP has 12 MLAs (with alliance partners 21), while Congress has 16 MLAs. BJP has fielded Parrikar in Panjim. He will face Congress’ Girish Chodankar, Goa Suraksha Manch’s Anand Shirodkar and Independent Kenneth Silveira. In Valpoi, Rane is contesting against Congress’ Roy Naik and Independent Rohidas Gaonkar.
Voting will be held in at 76 polling stations – 30 in Panjim and 46 in Valpoi – from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. In all 51,032 persons are eligible to cast their vote in the by-elections which includes 22,203 voters in Panjim and 28,829 voters in Valpoi. The polling, which will be webcast, will be held through EVM and VVPAT – Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail – machines. The system was first adopted in Goa during the February 2017 General elections. The by-elections will also see two model polling booths – All Women Pink polling booths – one in each constituency.
Addressing media persons on the poll preparedness, North Goa Collector Nila Mohanan said the machinery is in force, with nearly 1000 police security personnel consisting of Goa Police, IRB and CPMF companies deployed in both constituencies. “Of the 30 polling stations in Panjim, six stations are identified as criticial. There are no critical booths in Valpoi. Even then, we have extra monitoring of the remote villages in the constituencies,” she said.
Counting is scheduled on August 28 at the old GMC complex, the strong room, where all the EVMs and VVPATs would be kept after polling. “Political parties or candidates can view the strong room using CCTV footage. The strong room will be under complete supervision of the Central Police force,” Mohanan said.She said that naka bandhis are being conducted at eight places in Panjim and double layer naka bandhi at Keri check post in Valpoi. She said that under various Sections of CrPC (preventive measures), 418 people were issued notices post election code came into force, while before that 1599 people were served notices. [H]

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