The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received a boost on Monday with the party winning the Panaji and Valpoi seats by a good margin in the bypolls held on August 23. Now, the BJP’s tally in the 40-member Assembly has swelled to 14 and the party-led coalition government has a total strength of 23 members. The Opposition is made up of 16 Congress MLAs and a lone Nationalist Congress Party MLA.In Panaji, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar defeated AICC secretary Girish Chodankar by 4,803 votes, while Health Minister Vishwajit Rane wrested the Valpoi seat by beating Roy Naik of the Congress by 10,066 votes. Mr. Parrikar secured 9,862 votes against Mr. Chodankar’s 5,059. Goa Suraksha Manch chief Anand Shirdokar was a distant third with 220 votes. In Valpoi, Mr. Rane polled 16,167 votes as against Naik’s 6,101. A total of 15,538 votes were polled in Panaji and 23,038 in Valpoi.On Monday, counting began at 8 a.m. and the results were declared within two hours. Addressing a press conference in the city after the win, Chief Minister Parrikar termed the party’s bypoll victory as “expected and an endorsement of the State government” and wresting Panaji as an “apt reply to the vicious campaign run by detractors against him.”Mr. Parrikar put to rest speculation that the victory would spur more Congress MLAs to defect to the BJP. He said, “The ruling coalition is a happy family. We don’t want any more MLAs from the outside for the next five years. The bypoll result has given a befitting reply to the Opposition, which often alleged that we formed the government against the mandate of the people after the Assembly election in February.” Mr. Rane said he won despite members of the mining mafia using their money power to defeat him. He also said the win vindicated his decision to quit the Congress after the Assembly polls and join the BJP.Mr. Chodankar said despite the loss he would continue to work diligently for the voters of Panaji. He said, “In the past, Congress candidates in Panaji were accused of abandoning the voters and the party’s rank and file after elections. But I am determined to work for the people of Panaji and fight for their issues.”Shantaram Naik, former MP and president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, said the elections were a moral defeat for the BJP as “their candidates indulged into corrupt practices.” Mr. Naik alleged that the candidates “abused their official position to offer jobs to voters.” He said the Congress would strengthen its base in Panaji and Valpoi in the coming days.