Panaji: Countdown began for Assembly elections on Saturday in Goa where new entrant TMC and AAP among others will be taking on the ruling BJP.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) earlier in the day announced that election to all 40 Assembly constituencies in the coastal state would be held on February 14. With the announcement, the model code of conduct came into force.

The state has 11 lakh-odd eligible voters. The BJP, Congress, Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), AAP, Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), and NCP are the main political parties in the fray.

Local outfit Revolutionary Goans is also expected to make impact with its sizable following. But it is the entry of the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC which has roiled politics in the BJP-ruled state for the past one year. Another challenger to the BJP is the Aam Aadmi Party.

Political strategist Prashant Kishor pushed the TMC to focus on Goa after its resounding victory in West Bengal last year. The party has announced pre-poll alliance with the MGP, one of the oldest surviving political parties of Goa. The GFP and Congress have also announced pre-poll alliance, while Nationalist Congress Party is still searching for allies.

The BJP, notably, will face the polls without any pre-poll alliance. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday told reporters that the saffron party was confident of winning the election based on its performance and popularity.

The saffron party would, however, miss Manohar Parrikar, who died in March 2019. Parrikar had played a crucial role in consolidating BJP’s power in Goa. During 2017 election, Congress had emerged as the single largest party winning 17 seats, but the BJP trumped it by cobbling together a coalition with smaller parties.

By the end of 2021, Congress was left with only two MLAs after it faced a barrage of resignations besides en-masse defection of ten MLAs to the BJP. Two of its MLAs joined the TMC.

BJP which had won 13 seats in 2017 polls currently has 27 MLAs. Goa Forward Party which had won three seats is left with two MLAs while MGP, which too had won three seats has only one legislator left.

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