All in the fray: On new contenders in Goa polls

Seven of the 13 governments formed in Goa since 1963 have been by coalitions. In 2017, it was more a usurpation of power than the making of a defensible coalition. The BJP, which had won only 13 of the 40 Assembly seats, cobbled up a coalition with the two main regional parties, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), and two Independents to form the government under Manohar Parrikar, outsmarting the Congress that had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats. As the State saunters to the next Assembly election, the Congress is left with only two MLAs. Most of the others have crossed over to the BJP, which discarded its original partners, the MGP and the GFP, along the way. This time, the MGP has tied up with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the Vijai Sardesai-led GFP is in alliance with the Congress . The MGP at present has one and the GFP two MLAs in the Assembly. The 2022 Assembly election has been spiced up with the entry of the TMC, and vigorous campaigning by Arvind Kejrwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is looking to improve its dismal performance in the 2017 Goa Assembly election when the party failed to win even a single seat. An alliance of the NCP and Shiv Sena is also in the fray.

Despite being the largest party numerically, the BJP led by Pramod Sawant is being buffeted by the winds of anti-incumbency: a number of the Government’s ministers have been tainted by scams, while the State faces the challenges of unemployment and the economic slump resulting from the pandemic. The BJP’s apparent strategy to consolidate the Hindus comprising more than 60% of the total populace has resulted in the exit of three Catholic MLAs, including Cabinet Minister Michael Lobo. This may signify a reversal of the Parrikar approach of reaching out to the Catholics. It may not be a coincidence that the BJP is also sidelining his loyalists, even angering the Saraswat community that he belonged to. The BJP is facing resentment among old-timers who were neglected in favour of defectors from other parties. The AAP strategy involves bountiful welfare promises and community appeals. Its CM candidate is a member from the Bhandari community — the largest electoral bloc in Goa, comprising more than 30% of the population. The Congress is playing it low-key, hoping to ride on anti-incumbency, and counting on its deep connect with voters to ride back to power. Like the BJP, it has been projecting the TMC and AAP as outside parties with no roots in the State. Goa politics has been in a churn during the last five years. The Assembly election is a chance for renewal and fresh beginnings.

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Printable version | May 15, 2022 12:35:52 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/all-in-the-fray-the-hindu-editorial-on-new-contenders-in-goa-polls/article38293916.ece