Voting for the zilla panchayat (ZP) polls in Goa, which has 203 candidates in the fray contesting from 48 constituencies, began on Saturday morning. The polling process began at 8 am and is scheduled to conclude at 5 pm. The ZP poll is the first major polling exercise in the state since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The BJP has fielded 43 candidates, while the Congress fielded 38 candidates, followed by the Aam Aadmi Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party with 17 each.
There are also 79 Independent candidates in the fray.
"We are confident of winning these elections. I have been touring across Goa and there is a palpable support for the BJP because of the development projects undertaken by our government," said state BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade.
Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat also expressed confidence about the Congress winning the polls.
"Goa is going through a troublesome stage and our economic condition is poor. You can see the number of protests in Goa against the decisions of the government. This will reflect in the election results," Kamat said.
State Election Commissioner Chokha Ram Garg has urged voters to step out and participate in the elections, which were originally scheduled to be held on March 22.
The ZP polls were postponed after the Centre imposed a nationwide lockdown from March 25 to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
Goa has 50 Zilla Panchayat seats, but one unopposed candidate has already been declared victorious, while a candidate contesting from the Navelim seat in South Goa district has died, forcing the State Election Commission to countermand polling in the constituency.
Covid-19 patients will be allowed to exercise their franchise only during the last hour of polling, provided they wear full PPE kits.