Goa has not given any party a clear majority, although the Congress has emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats in the 40-member assembly. It held the Bharatiya Janata Party to a mere 13 seats, down eight from the 21 it won in the last state elections.
The lack of a clear majority puts the spotlight on the ten seats picked by smaller regional players such as Goa Forward, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three independent candidates. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward have bagged three seats each.
Goa Forward made it clear that though its first choice for an alliance would be the Congress it intended to drive a hard bargain. Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardessai told Scroll.in that his party was in a dilemma over whom to choose to ally with. Sardessai has been an outspoken critic of the BJP these past five years, but began criticising the Congress, especially Goa Pradesh Congress commitee President Luizinho Faleiro, when alliance talks between the two entities failed before the polls.
Faleiro is likely to lose the chief ministerial race to Digamber Kamat, since the latter has a good equation with the Goa Forward’s Sardessai. Kamat had favoured an electoral alliance with Goa Forward.
On Saturday night, both the Congress and BJP were holding meetings to decide their strategy. Analysts on local television, though, were interpreting the result as a clear mandate for the BJP to sit in the opposition.
Digvijay Singh, the All India Congress Committee General Secretary in charge of Goa, held a meeting with the Congress MLA elects and the party is likely to stake their claim to form a government.
Even as the BJP tried to put on a brave face, eight of its ministers, including Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, lost their seats. Parsekar lost by a sizeable margin of 7,119 votes to the Congress’ Dayanand Sopte. Only four ministers of the BJP-Maharashtrawadi Gmantak Party 12 member cabinet were returned by the electorate – Deputy Chief Minister Francis de Souza, Alina Saldanha, Power Minister Milind Naik (who won narrowly by 140 votes), and Ramkrishna Sudhin Dhavlikar.
The wins for the resurgent Congress include those by former chief ministers Digamber Kamat, Pratapsing Rane, Ravi Naik and Luizinho Faleiro.
The good news for the Congress is that it regained its Christian-dominated bastions in South Goa, which had deserted it in 2012 when its tally plunged to just nine.
More than half of the 13 winners that the BJP won in 2017 are candidates from the Christian community. In 2017, the BJP continued its 2012 policy of alloting seats to Christians to beat the poll arithmetic in a state where Christians are 27 % of the population. Seven of its eight candidates who hail from the Christian community have won.
After breaking its alliance with the BJP, the Maharashtra Gomantakwadi Party had nursed great hopes this election of improving its tally to at least five with a tie-up with the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh breakaway political outfit Goa Surakhsha Manch. But it managed only three and the Manch drew a blank
The Aam Aadmi Party was the unknown factor in this poll, and though it ran an organised campaign, it did not win a single seat. Though AAP was expected to damage the Congress, it was not able to cut any ice with voters who preferred to consolidate a clear anti-BJP win in segments where the Congress won.