Congress and its pre-poll ally NCP were on Tuesday set to retain power in Goa winning 19 seats, just two short of a majority, in the elections to the 40-member Assembly that threw up a fractured verdict.
While the Congress got 16 seats, NCP bagged three. The BJP failed to increase its tally, retaining its 14 seats in the Assembly for which polls were held on June 2 and results announced on Tuesday.
Hours after the verdict, newly-elected Congress MLAs met and passed a resolution authorising party president Sonia Gandhi to name the new leader of the legislature party who will become the Chief Minister.
Vishwajeet, son of Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, who won as an Independent from Valpoi, declared his support to the Congress-led formation. As Congress engaged in efforts to reach the magic figure, its the smaller parties like the Save Goa Front with two legislators, United Goans Democratic Party with one MLA and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party with two legislators which hold the key to government formation.
The regional parties could not make much dent this time though they proved to be giant killers in a few constituencies. The MGP, Goa's oldest regional party, which had fielded 26 candidates, faired poorly, winning just two seats.
Former Congress MP Churchill Alemao-floated SGP spoiled Congress prospects in two constituencies.
Alemoa defeated Congressmen Luzinho Faleiro in Navelim while Assembly Speaker Fransisco Sardinha lost to the political novice Aleixo Reginaldo Lawrence in the Curtorim seat.
The NCP, which managed to get three seats, however suffered a setback with its Goa unit president Wilfred D'Souza losing in Saligao constituency to a BJP candidate. The Goa win for Congress comes in the backdrop of the party's debacle in Punjab and Uttaranchal and a disappointing show in Uttar Pradesh in April-May Assembly elections.
Congress, which had 18 seats in the outgoing Assembly, had its share of setbacks with some seasoned leaders like Jitendra Deshprabhu (Pernem), Subhash Shirodkar (Shiroda) and Karl Vaz (Mormugao) losing to BJP candidates.
The Goa chief minister who contested from Poriem, Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar (Panaji), Deputy Speaker Victoria Fernandes and Goa pradesh congress committee president Ravi Naik retained their seats.
United Goans Democratic Party got only one seat as its candidate and former Town and Country Planning Minister Atanasio Monserratte won from Taleigao constituency. Janata Dal (S), which fielded candidates in 11 seats, failed to open its account.