The shock defeat of chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, beaten by a former BJP leader Dayanand Sopte who joined the Congress in 2012, underlined the ruling party’s struggles to hold onto the state.
The BJP has so far won six and is leading in two more while votes from 16 constituencies are yet to be taken up for counting.
The 26% Catholic votes in Goa are believed to be behind the reversal of fortunes for the Congress which had managed just nine out of the 40 seats in 2012.
In 2012, the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP had focused on the perceived corruption of the Congress to engineer a fragile compromise with Goa’s Catholic community.
Since then, analysts say, the community had a rethink of its support for the BJP. The Catholics play a decisive role in 11 seats.
“It is a combination of anti-incumbency, bad governance and failure to check corruption that made people decide to defeat the BJP,” said Raju Nayak, editor of Lokmat, a leading local daily.
“It’s not that people liked the Congress. They just wanted to get rid of BJP. Otherwise, the Congress campaign lacked fire, there were infighting among their leaders and worst of all: the organisation was in disarray,” he added.
Observers also attribute the perception of insecurity among minorities, following the ascent of BJP to power at the Centre, as another factor that went against the party in Catholic-dominated south Goa, where the BJP had won 9 out of its 21 seats in 2012.
In the BJP stronghold in the north, the party is facing near annihilation if the Congress leads in five constituencies are any indication. In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 12 seats in north Goa.
Despite Arvind Kejriwal’s whirlwind rallies and roadshows, the AAP has failed to open its account. Its chief ministerial candidate, Elvis Gomes, lost in Conculim, and its prospects are unlikely to improve as counting continues.
For Assembly elections live blog, click here