Defying anti-incumbency, BJP emerges as single-largest party in Goa

Overcrowded Opposition space dooms Congress; AAP, Revolutionary Goans open accounts in coastal State 

March 10, 2022 09:09 pm | Updated 09:13 pm IST - Panaji

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant flashes the victory sign in Panaji on March 10, 2022.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant flashes the victory sign in Panaji on March 10, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Defying ‘anti-incumbency’ trends, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), though bereft of the late Manohar Parrikar’s leadership, scored a hat–trick in the Goa Assembly election by bagging a decisive 20 seats of the 40–member Assembly and staking claim to form the new government in the coastal State.

In a state notorious for throwing up fractured mandates, the BJP, contesting all 40 seats for the first time, fell short of just one seat required for a simple majority bettering its performance of 13 seats in the 2017 election.

Goa Assembly Election 2022 | Results

However, the BJP’s election in–charge Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP had the support of five more candidates including three independents and two Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) candidates and that the MGP, which contested the election in alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), had given a letter of support to the BJP.

He said the BJP would stake claim to form the government and meet the Governor only after following due party procedure and that it was not in any hurry to do so as it already had won a comfortable number of seats.

“We will form the government with a healthy majority of 25 seats. Three independent candidates have pledged their support and the MGP, too, has given its letter of support to the BJP. Now, we will have a meeting of our Central Parliamentary Board today evening following which a central observer will be selected for Goa. He is likely to arrive tomorrow [Friday] after which there will be a legislature party meeting. Only then we will go to the Governor to stake claim to form government. We are in no hurry,” Mr. Fadnavis told reporters after the results.

Goa Assembly Elections 2022 | Updates

The Congress, the BJP’s main challenger, could manage just 11 of the 37 seats and failed to live up to its pre–poll rhetoric of winning a simple majority. In 2017, it had emerged as the single–largest party, winning 17 seats but failing to seize the initiative to form a government.

Congress election strategist P. Chidambaram attributed his party’s loss to its inability to communicate effectively to the people to stop the division of votes, while Goa desk in–charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said the party would serve as the “voice of people of Goa” and that the party would be revamped after the results.

The BJP benefited from a crowded Opposition arena which saw a significant split in the Opposition votes that affected the Congress in at least six constituencies. This, coupled with its strategy of selecting candidates of “maximum winnability” saw the party tide over the election despite securing a vote share of just 33.31% — a marginal improvement of its 32.8% vote share in 2017.

Watch | Goa Election Results 2022: key winners and losers

The Congress’ vote share plummeted to 23.46% from 28.5% in 2017.

Despite its disappointing performance, its candidates offered credible opposition in some segments — with Sanquelim candidate Dharmesh Saglani giving a tough fight to CM Pramod Sawant (who won by less than 700 votes) and Digambar Kamat and Altone D’Costa defeating both BJP Deputy Chief Ministers Mahohar Azgaonkar and Chandrakant Kavlekar from Margao and Quepem respectively.

Mr. Kamat, who won his seventh term from Margao, won by a massive margin of more than 8,000 votes.  

A keen contest was fought in Panaji, where incumbent BJP MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserratte defeated rebel independent Utpal Parrikar, late Manohar Parrikar’s son, by a narrow margin of over 700 votes. Mr. Monserrate’s wife, Jennifer Monserrate, won the Taleigao seat.

However, among couples, it was BJP Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, son of Congressman Pratapsingh Rane, who won Valpoi by more than 8,000 votes while his wife, first time candidate from Poriem, Dr. Deviya Rane, posted a record win of nearly 14,000 votes.   

The Congress’ ally, the Vijai Sardesai-led Goa Forward Party (GFP), won only one of the three seats — Mr. Sardesai from Fatorda — it fought on.

The MGP, which fought on an anti-BJP plank and was projected as a ‘kingmaker’, saw its “false dawn” crumbling as the party could win just two of the 13 seats it contested. Prior to the results, MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar had categorically said he would not ally with the BJP as the latter had betrayed it in 2019 with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant unceremoniously dumping the long-time ally.

While Congress citadels like Sattari were breached owing to stalwart Pratapsingh Rane’s unwillingness to contest, the party failed to significantly dent any of the BJP’s strongholds or make an impression in Catholic-dominated Salcette in South Goa owing to a divided Opposition space there.

It was in Salcette that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Revolutionary Goans (RG) — the “wild card” among all non–BJP players – opened their accounts.

AAP’s Captain Venzy Viegas won the Benaulim seat defeating TMC’s Churchill Alemao while Cruz Silva bagged the Velim constituency. However, party’s CM face Amit Palekar lost from the Santa Cruz seat.

RG candidate Viresh Borkar opened his party’s account by winning the St. Andre seat while the party, with a football as its symbol, cannibalised the non-BJP votes in the Thivim and Curtorim constituencies. Likened to a Goan version of the early Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the RG, with its “son of the soil” agenda, proved in this election that it had substantial support in the huge Goan migrant population in neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka especially among the Goans settled abroad.

As for the TMC, its star players turned in a dismal performance with former Goa CM Churchill Alemao losing Benaulim and party president Kiran Kandolkar being trounced in the Aldona seat.

Interestingly, seven of the 10 Congress MLAs who had defected to the BJP lost, implying a rejection of “defection politics”. Despite the Congress and the AAP’s harping on awarding tickets to fresh faces, the electorate by and large reposed their faith in established local satraps rather than new candidates.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.