The BJP in Goa has seen many exits as it gears up for the state assembly elections on February 14. This is a season of migration across all parties. People do switch sides to get a ticket. Win-ability is the key for any party. Voters also don’t care about ideology and principles anymore. They are settled on electing turncoats. It is all about numbers and who can garner maximum votes based on caste, creed, and money power. We are decades away from seeing voters voting on real issues bothering them (Roads, jobs, economy, connectivity, water, education, industries). This can only be done through conscious responsiveness among citizens.
Whereas Congress has emerged with a new spirit, this time they are confident of winning elections. Voters are upset with BJP due to alleged corruption, unemployment, and survival issues. TMC, NCP-Shiv Sena geared up to support Congress to hold on to power. Elections will be held in Goa on 14 February 2022 to elect 40 members of the Goa Legislative Assembly. The votes will be counted and the results will be declared on 10 March 2022.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal announced senior advocate Amit Palekar as its chief ministerial face for Goa ahead of the upcoming elections. Palekar belongs to the Bhandari community in Goa, which is one of the largest voter bases in the coastal state. Incidentally, last year, the Bhandari Samaj in Goa had made it clear that it would extend its support to any political party that would declare its chief ministerial candidate from its community.
Indian National Congress has Digambar Kamat as its face, Goa Forward Party led by Vijai Sardesai, Aam Aadmi Party’s face is Amit Palekar, there is also an Independent Chandrakant Shetye, Mahua Moitra is looking after All India Trinamool Congress campaign, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party has Sudin Dhavalikar. Nationalist Congress Party banks on Jose Philip D’Souza, Shiv Sena has Jitesh Kamat, Communist Party of India relies on R. D. Mangeshkar, and Revolutionary Goans Party gave control to Manoj Parab
With Palekar now being proposed as its CM face, the AAP has played a strategic move to woo the Bhandari community. After joining AAP, Palekar came into the limelight when he went on an indefinite hunger strike at Old Goa, an important heritage, and sacred site, in whose close vicinity an alleged illegal construction was going on sans permission. Palekar continued his hunger strike till the local panchayat revoked all alleged illegal permissions granted to the construction though the structure is yet to be demolished. Palekar’s young daughter offering a glass of water to her father as he broke his fast was an instant hit all over, with the AAP considering it the first major win against the ruling BJP government.
When Palekar joined AAP on October 21, 2021, he said the party’s ideology was very similar to what he believed in and hence, it wasn’t very difficult to join forces. Though Palekar claims he doesn’t hail from a political background, his mother has been the sarpanch of Merces village for 10 years. Palekar, who hails from the St. Cruz constituency, recently tried exposing an alleged job recruitment scam at the state-run Goa Medical College (GMC) at Bambolim. He challenged Goa Health Minister and BJP leader Vishwajeet Rane to an open debate. Palekar alleged that almost ninety per cent of the job recruitments at the GMC were based on recruitment of incompetent staff, either via favouritism or bribery. This move too brought him significant attention. Palekar was also one of the litigants who had approached the Bombay High Court (Goa Bench) when 47 people lost their lives due to an alleged short supply of oxygen during the second wave of Covid-19. Shortly after, the government was forced to intervene. He, along with a charitable organization, donated 185 medical beds to the GMC.
The Congress has only three MLAs in Goa. Key political parties, the Shiv Sena and the NCP had offered to support the Congress in its difficult times. But Congress is thinking they can do better on their own whereas it cannot cross the single-digit mark if it contests alone. Sanjay Raut, who is known to be the man behind the making of Maha Vikas Aghadi held a dialogue with AICC in charge of Goa Dinesh Gundurao, CLP leader Digambar Kamat and Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar and had placed a proposal that the Congress contest on 30 of the 40 Assembly seats and leave the rest for its allies, but the talks gone futile as Congress was not ready to settle on said proposal.
BJP is more focused on the Uttar Pradesh elections than the Goa elections. AAP is focusing only on Goa and Punjab elections. Last time, the Congress party got 17 seats and the BJP won 13 seats. Congress party was in majority, but unable to form a government in Goa. BJP came to power with alliance support. This time Congress has a good chance to win, however, if Congress fails to form a government this time, then it would be their last nail in the coffin.
AAP will fail due to a variety of reasons and for the same reason, they failed last time. Goan Christians don’t stand as a vote bank, unlike the Muslims in most of the states. Last time BJP performed better in Christian dominated areas while congress did better in Hindu majority areas, and even the incumbent CM of BJP lost his seat.
Caste politics is not that prevalent like in other states but it does matter to some extent. Congress has done a balanced job by putting Brahmin and OBC leadership forward, unlike the last time when they put up the face of Christian leaders. However, the pre-poll alliance will also be a deciding factor. BJP won’t have any alliance partner because they poached the MLAs of both MGP and Goa forward party.
Goa has a regional identity of its own and national parties like BJP had to work for years to be successful here. Even congress took its time in the beginning. There’s a mix of caste, religious and regional identity but it’s unlike Bihar or Bengal. Let us see what voters decide and who they chose as their rulers.