Voters in Panjim came out in large numbers to post a record turnout for the civic elections with 76 per cent of the voters exercising their franchise on Sunday. And even as the fate of the candidates remained sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines to be unlocked on Monday, promoters of the two main panels claimed victory with Education Minister Babush Monserrate even taking out a victory procession.
Ward No. 15 where sitting Corporator Mangaldas Naik sponsored by Babush Monserrate is pitted against Manohar Parrikar led Panjim First’s Shekhar Degvekar, recorded the highest turn out of 87.34 per cent.
Seven other wards, namely Ward No. 20 (85.90), Ward No. 24 (83.95), Ward No. 21 (83.25), Ward No. 14 (83.14), Ward No. 27 (82.65), Ward No. 17 (82.13) and Ward No. 23 (80.69) recorded a turn out of over 80 per cent according to statistics provided by the State Election Commissioner.
In ward No. 4 where the outgoing Mayor Carolina Po from Babush’s panel is facing a stiff challenge from Panjim First’s Prabhakar Dongrekar, only 59.03 per cent voters cast their ballot thereby making this the ward with the lowest turn out.
The voters preferred to exercise their franchise in the first half of the day as 68 per cent turn out was recorded at 2 pm. Incidentally at the last elections held in 2006, the voter turn out was 63.66 per cent.
There were complaints from the Panjim First’s candidate of being ill treated by polling officials with Nelson Cabral contesting from Ward No. 2 complaining that he was not allowed to vote because he failed to bring his Election Identity Card. Similarly Surendra Furtado and Sudin Kamat contesting from Ward Nos. 9 and 10 respectively, complained of shabby treatment by the polling officials.
Confusion prevailed at the Government High School, Dona Paula where polling for two wards was held involving five different booths and one auxiliary booth. People did not know which booth they had vote and the confusion was cleared only after the police personnel posted there were asked to guide the voters to their respective booths.
The turn out for the civic polls was the highest ever and many attribute this large turn out to the Panajiites Initiative For Change that canvassed extensively including door to door urging particularly the middle class to vote for a change in order to prevent Babush’s panel from regaining control of the civic body.
Many voters admitted that they were out because of the PINC initiative and also revealed that their neighbours had come out in large numbers to lend their support to PINC’s initiative.
Notwithstanding this, Babush Monserrate claimed victory for his panel even before the counting was taken up and confidently claimed victory in 27 of the 30 wards. However, many of his candidates did not share his confidence.
Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar also expressed confidence that the panel floated by him had emerged victorious. He said their game plan had worked as reflected in the large turnout and said that voters who normally did not participate in the civic elections, have decisively voted for a change this time.
Counting of the votes will be taken up at 10 am on Monday and the results are expected to be announced within an hour said State Election Commissioner Dr. Modassir.