Goa 2017

Local parties hold the key in Goa

Scenes of celebration at the Goa Congress headquarters.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The BJP’s hopes of retaining power in Goa or at least emerging as the single largest party were thwarted as the Congress overtook the saffron party by four seats. The Congress managed 18 seats (with the support of 1 Independent candidate) to the BJP’s tally of 14 (including an Independent) in the 40-member House. But the Congress’ performance seemed all the more credible given that the party had suffered its most stinging defeat in the 2012 polls. It was a climb-back from a humiliating single digit seat count to a gain of twice the number of seats in the current polls. But will the Congress be allowed the opportunity to form the government?

At a press conference after the results on Saturday where he announced he would soon be resigning, outgoing Chief Minister Laxmikanth Parsekar tried to qualify the BJP defeat as “not such a bad performance, because we have got a higher vote share (32.9%) than the Congress (27.9%)”. But Mr. Parsekar’s statement that he was “worried” that the fractured mandate would hamper Goa’s development and political stability in the next five years, seemed to send out the signals that the BJP might try to stake a claim to form the government by wooing the now much-coveted Goa Forward (GF) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), two local parties which are run by politicians known to harbour large political ambitions.

AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh who told this correspondent that the Congress would stake claim to form the next government by Sunday morning, insisted that the BJP had lost the moral right to make a bid for power here. The Congress went into a huddle late night here with its core committee meeting which would also take the views of all the newly elected MLAs, Mr. Singh said.

A setback for the BJP

This was an election without any real issues for Goa, except for a palpable disenchantment with the government of the day for its failure to deliver on a number of issues. In fact the term a “government of U-turns” had become a favourite campaign chant for the Opposition. From its failure to wind down on offshore casino licenses, to taking action against errant mining lobbies based on the Shah Commission findings to its lack of commitment to resolving the contentious medium of teaching issue in Goa resentment against the BJP government found expression in the stinging rejection of Mr. Parsekar in the Mandrem constituency where the sitting Chief Minister lost by a margin of 7119 votes to the Congress’ Dayanand Sopte.

Across the board, BJP Ministers who were seen as arrogant were taught a lesson by the electorate who also punished another strong RSS man, the outgoing Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, as well as minister Dayanand Mandrekar, Dilip Parulekar and Mahadev Naik, as well as MGP minister Deepak Dhavlikar.

One of the biggest ironies of this election is that the saffron party which till two elections ago had a hard time convincing “Catholic” faces to contest for the BJP is now dominated more by “Catholic MLAs” than others. Seven of the BJP’s 13 new members are from the minority community, a fact that stands out for a party that has been trying hard to soften its image in this cosmopolitan tourist State. But when Manohar Parrikar moved to the Centre in late 2014 to become the Union Defence Minister, the saffron party bypassed one of its longest serving MLAs, deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza for the chief minister’s post, electing to bring in the RSS-rooted Parsekar to occupy the CM’s chair instead.

AAP decimated

Another big surprise of the election was the total wipeout of the Aam Aadmi Party which had contested 39 of the 40 seats — more than any other party. Though the AAP started out with a bang drawing a large number of people to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Panaji rally in May 2016, the AAP seemed more blown away by its own spin. Dogged by its failures in running the Delhi administration, it failed to convince the Goan voter that it could prove a viable alternative either to the BJP or Congress. The AAP managed four digit tallies only in few constituencies. It did however eat into the secular vote, taking 6.1% of it and bringing the Congress down to 27.9%. The regional parties — GF and MGP — did much better bagging three seats each as did the Independents.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of this election yet is the return of the Congress old guard, among them former chief ministers Pratapsingh Rane, Digambar Kamat, Luizinho Faleiro and Ravi Naik and MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Isidore Fernandes and Churchill Alemao of the NCP, all of whom sailed in comfortably.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 3:22:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/goa-2017/local-parties-hold-the-key-in-goa/article17451392.ece

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