Panaji: Over 1,600 'loaded' electronic voting machines will on Tuesday reveal that which party rules the 10.26 lakh Goans who voted in record numbers for a new government.

According to poll officials, the new ruling political dispensation in Goa will be decided within two hours of counting at the two counting centers on Tuesday (March 6). It is yet to be decided whether counting of the votes cast Saturday will begin at 8 am or 9 am.

"The district returning officer at the counting center in Panaji will monitor the results for 23 seats in north Goa. The South Goa District Returning Officer will monitor the other 17 seats in Margao," Joint Chief Electoral Officer NS Navti said.

Both the ruling and the opposition, as well as the several independent candidates and regional parties who have contested the elections, have tried to interpret the record 82.8 percent mandate as a good omen for them. "There is no doubt in my mind that this is our mandate. The Congress-NCP's good governance and positive campaign has worked in our favour. The people have come out in a huge number against the BJP's negative campaign," Congress working president Francisco Sardinha told on Monday.

The Congress is contesting 33 seats, while its alliance partner has put up the remaining seven candidates in the 40-member assembly. The BJP has said the overwhelming, record voting percentage was a sign that the people had had enough of misrule by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance. "You just wait and watch on Tuesday. Do you need a bigger indictment of a government than a total rejection by more than 80 percent of the population?" BJP general secretary Govind Parvatkar said.

The BJP contested the elections with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) as an alliance partner. Regional parties, however, believe that the heavy-duty campaigning by both the Congress might just fracture the verdict in Goa and are revelling in the prospects of becoming king makers.

"All I can say is that the next government will be formed with the help of regional parties," said Mickky Pacheco, whose wife Viola is the president of the Goa Vikas party (GVP).

Independent candidates like Avertano Furtado claim that they could decide the course of government formation if things come to a crunch. Furtado who is taking on heavyweight Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Churchill Alemao said that with 74 independent candidates in the fray, several of whom are rebels rejected by national parties, the pendulum could swing anyway. "Be prepared for a surprise. A few independents could hold the key I think because people are frustrated with all the national parties which have led Goa nowhere," he said.