Punjab and Goa were the first states to go for Assembly polls in 2017 on Saturday. While Goa is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party with Laxmikant Pareskar as chief minister, Punjab has a Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government and Parkash Singh Badal is the chief minister. Around 11 lakh voters will decide the next government in Goa, while 1.98 crore people will exercise their franchise in Punjab on Saturday. Votes will be counted and results declared on March 11.

Goa elections

Number of seats in Assembly: 40

Main contenders: Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and a new three-party alliance formed by BJP’s former ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party with rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar’s Goa Suraksha Manch and Shiv Sena.

Major issues: Mining, culture protectionism and casinos.

The BJP has said that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar would be closely associated with the government functioning if the party is voted back to power in the state. Parrikar was Goa’s chief minister till he was given the defence portfolio. But, the new three-party combine might cut into the BJP votes. Elvis Gomes, a former bureaucrat, is the chief ministerial candidate of the Arvind Kejriwal party.

Goa has recorded a polling percentage of 83% till 5 pm.

Punjab elections

Number of seats in Assembly: 117

Main contenders: BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance, Congress and AAP-Lok Insaf Party.

Major issues: Drug abuse, farmer suicides and employment.

For Punjab, the Congress expects Navjot Singh Sidhu to draw several votes. He had left the Bharatiya Janata Party saying that he was not being allowed to work for the state. His wife has also joined the Congress. Amarinder Singh is the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress party. SAD’s Parkash Singh Badal is seeking a sixth term as chief minister. He will be fighting against Amarinder Singh for the Lanba seat. Stand-up comedian and AAP legislator Bhagwant Mann is the probable CM candidate for the party, reported Mint. Dalit icon Bant Singh’s shift to AAP is likely to help the party in the state.

The Centre has made “unprecedented” security arrangements for the polls. “Around one lakh security personnel including paramilitary forces have been deployed in these elections,” said Punjab Additional Director General of Police VK Bhawra, who is also the nodal officer for state polls. The state elections are particularly important for the ruling BJP as they come right after the Centre’s recent demonetisation move.

Punjab has recorded a voter turnout of around 70% till 5 pm.