Panaji: This was one election the exit polls got wrong. Contrary to predictions, the Congress emerged as the single largest party instead of the BJP in a hung verdict in Goa. The party won 17 seats, and the BJP trailed with 13 in the 40-member assembly. Nine seats went to the others - three for the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party or MGP, three for the Goa Forward Party and 3 Independents - who will hold the key to government formation in the state.
- Congress emerges as the single largest party in a hung verdict in Goa
- Parties like MGP, Goa Forward Party to be key to government formation
- Exit polls had predicted BJP could retain Goa
The MGP -- which is part of an alliance with the Shiv Sena and the Goa Suraksha Manch or GSM -- had broken its alliance with the BJP in January. The Shiv Sena, whose chief Uddhav Thackeray said he would not enter any alliance with the BJP again.
Exit polls had predicted that the BJP could retain Goa. Three out of four exit polls did not rule out a majority for the party and only one predicted a hung house. The aggregate gave the BJP 18 of the state's 40 seats.
But by the afternoon, the party's setback became apparent. BJP Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar lost to Congress rival Dayanand Sopte from Goa's Mandrem constituency.
Party chief Amit Shah, however, said, "The results are very encouraging for the BJP, we are going to form government in UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur".
The Congress government of Digambar Kamat had lost the state in 2012 -- trailing the BJP and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party combine with only nine seats. The BJP had won 21 seats and the MGP three, which added up to a comfortable majority.
Today, Mr Kamat, who won from Margao constituency, credited the workers for the victory.
"The BJP-led government tried to harass me. They filed fake cases against me. They tried to jail me. Only God protected me," the 63-year-old leader told reporters after beating his BJP rival by over 4,000 votes. Mr Kamat had been booked by Goa Crime Branch in the multi-crore Louis bribery case in 2015.
Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, which contested from Goa in an effort to expand its footprint beyond Delhi but was portrayed as an outsider by both the BJP and the Congress, failed to open an account.