Friday, Sep 22, 2023 | Last Update : 01:00 PM IST

  India   Politics  29 Jan 2017  Goa polls: Season of parties in coastal state

Goa polls: Season of parties in coastal state

Published : Jan 29, 2017, 12:01 am IST
Updated : Jan 29, 2017, 5:48 am IST

Politicial parties are busy promising change and development in a state where demonetisation has hit hardest — tourism industry.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (Photo: PTI)
 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar (Photo: PTI)

It’s anybody’s game” is the phrase one party senior used to sum up Goa’s multi-cornered electoral battle that’s heading to the wire on February 4.

Parties are bringing out the big guns to fire their last salvos — Prime Minister Narendra Modi will ask 14 lakh Goans to give the BJP a second run in 2017 to continue the party’s massive infrastructure development projects in the state.

Heading the party’s “# Transforming Goa” campaign with its slogan of “For Goa’s Gain, BJP Again”, is former chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

Mr Parrikar rode an anti-Congress wave in 2012 to bring his BJP-MGP alliance a stunning win, reducing the Congress to nine seats in the 40-member House. The BJP won 21 of the 28 seats it contested, while alliance partners Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party won 3 of 7 seats.

Much water has flowed down the Mandovi since then. In 2017, it is the BJP that is staring down an anti-incumbency wave, despite several welfare scheme payouts to sections of citizens.

“U-turns” is a much-used phrase its critics use, pointing to the party going back on several tall promises it made in 2012, including in dealing with casinos, illegal mining and special status demands and settling a medium of instruction row in the state.

Still, riding on the Congress’ lacklustre performance as the principal opposition, and its inability to focus on the government’s failures, the BJP was set to ease past the post, despite the odds.

Trouble came from within. In August 2016, the party faced an inter-parivar personality clash. RSS sangachalak Subhash Velingkar launched a challenge to the BJP, over grants to English medium primary schools, targeting both Mr Parrikar and Christian-run schools. Mr Velingkar did the unthinkable, challenged the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, to create a breakaway group, and ultimately set up its own political party the Goa Suraksha Manch to oppose the BJP.

Fresh trouble for the BJP came when its alliance partner — the MGP — sensed an opportunity to make a play for the chief ministerial post, and broke the alliance in early January.

Allying with the GSM and Shiv Sena, the alternate saffron combine led by MGP leader Ramkrishna Sudhin Dhavlikar is contesting 30 seats.

Given the small constituency sizes, analysts feel the combine could split votes and badly damage the BJP in eight-nine seats.

Taking corrective action, the BJP swiftly made changes. It inducted four former Congress leaders, seen as winnable, including two whom Mr Parrikar had accused of corruption and pursued cases against.

All this while the Congress that looked poised to make a comeback, lost precious time. Its senior leaders jostled over tickets and seat adjustments, right to the last date of withdrawals, finally fielding 37 nominees and lending outside support to others.

It dropped several of its tainted former ministers and brought in fresh faces, a promise Goa Congress president Luizinho Faleiro kept while reviving the party since its 2012 debacle.

The Aam Aadmi Party also steadily built its campaign in Goa, bringing its New Delhi stratagems and outstation volunteers to launch a formidable challenge.

Including the Congress in its anti-corruption plank, the AAP is poised to chip at the Congress Catholic voter base, and could act as spoiler in many seats the Congress was hoping to wrap up. The BJP could just slide through from the vote split in non-BJP ranks.

Tags: narendra modi, manohar parrikar, rss
Location: India, Goa, Panaji