The race to control Goa, the small coastal state known for tourism and rich iron-ore deposits, could be heading for a hung assembly where support of other smaller parties could play a decisive role.Congress is ahead in 17 seats, three more than BJP's 14 in a neck-and-neck race, according to latest counting trends. The magic figure to form the government is 21 in the 40 seat strong state assembly .Others including Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (3), Goa Forward Party (3), the Nationalist Congress Party (1) and independents (3) are leading in 10 seats. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is yet to open it account.In a major setback for BJP - along with the sitting Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar five other state ministers including Mahadev Naik, Dilip Parulekar, Dayanand Mandrekar, Rajendra Arlekar and Avertan Furtardo suffered defeats.While five Congress chief minister hopefuls – Pratapsingh Rane, Luizinho Faleiro, Churchill Alemao, Ravi Naik and Digambar Kamat have won.The decent show in Goa raised Congress hopes of forming government. The party said it is in touch with NCP (1 seat) and MGP (3 seats) and the Independents (3) for support.Goa Forward Party, which is leading in 3 seats remained non-commital on its support."Cong can't take for granted we'll support them. Need to see how our party can grow. Will take stock of final numbers this evening," said Vijay Sardesai, Goa Forward Party chief.The BJP’s reported CM candidate is apparently Manohar Parrikar. As it is sitting CM Palsekar has lost.BJP's chief Amit Shah expressed confidence that his party will form the government in Goa.The exit polls for Goa Assembly elections forecasted a close fight between the ruling BJP and the Congress, giving a slight edge to BJP. AAP is also making its debut in the Goa Assembly elections and had fielded 39 candidates.The Congress has contested 27 seats and has extended support to two other candidates while the BJP has fielded 36 candidates and is supporting two independents.The old regional Maharashtra Gomantak Party-Goa Suraksha Manch-Shiv Sena have teamed up contesting 34 seats eating into BJP’s vote. The counting trends indicate Goa, may slip away from BJP control. The party was struggling with the vacuum created by its tall leader Manohar Parrikar who left state chief ministership for Delhi to join the Central Cabinet as Union Defence Minister in 2014.Laxmikant Parsekar, who took over the reins in Goa struggled to be a credible successor to Parrikar. Analysts say the other factors contributed to Goa BJP’s lacklustre performance include division among sections of BJP and RSS leadership and the economic hardship due to ban on iron-ore mining.Before the ban iron-ore mining was contributing around 30 percent to state coffers helping it to take up many welfare measures.The ban on iron ore extraction and export in Goa imposed in 2012, was lifted by Supreme Court in April, 2014, with a cap on export till 20 million metric tons.The mining belt of Bicholim, Sankhalim, Sanguem, and Quepem talukas, are hit hard by mining slowdown. The cap on exports coupled with lack of enthusiasm among mining companies to revive their activities, has hurt the business sentiment of this belt.Congress promised restoration of mining incorporating Supreme Court guidelines. Scrap Goa Investment Promotion Board. Return to and owners all unused lands of Goa Industrial Development Corporation.Goa, ruled by the Portuguese for 450 years until 1961, is not only India’s smallest state in terms of land area, but also has one of the smallest assemblies with just 40 members. The state scores well on human development indicators.Christians account for nearly 25 percent of Goa’s population, and the archdiocese of Goa has always played a political role in local elections. In 2012, Christians are believed to have voted for the BJP, largely due to the personal appeal of Parrikar.