As the assembly constituencies of Valpoi and Panaji go for by-polls tomorrow, fates of the Chief Minister and Health Minister hangs in balance. This is one of the most high profile contest Goa has seen over the past few years. A question does arise, what does it mean for various stake-holders?
Manohar Parrikar is fighting for political survival
Panaji is more than a constituency to Manohar Parrikar. It is a sign of prestige. If he loses the by-poll, it will be a personal loss to Parrikar since the BJP has the numbers to continue without him. It is likely the Health Minister will keep his seat and if he does, it will notch BJP’s number back to 13.
The CM has gambled big on this by-poll. Currently, it seems the BJP is seen in a negative light ever since it formed a government even after receiving a drubbing in the recent assembly poll. The church seems to have unofficially made its stand clear on the matter, it may not be supporting Parrikar.
Given this fact, the CM has done everything possible to make sure he wins. He even pulled off a silent coup when Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserratte joined the Goa Forward Party (GFP) recently. He has promised many goodies to Panaji voters but many question his track record for the past two decades that he has been its MLA.
The CM is fighting for political survival, if he wins, his image as a BJP leader will be boosted. If he loses, his future in active politics may be uncertain and may also lead to his retirement from it.
Vishwajeet Rane will confirm his family’s hegemony in Sattari
Vishwajeet Rane has been a MLA since 2007. This is the fifth election he will face and the second by-poll. All these within a span of slightly more than a decade. So it is needless to say that junior Rane is not new to polls.
The last time Rane was a minister, he became notorious to have allegedly provided government jobs to the many people from Sattari. This will be an important factor in Valpoi assembly constituency. His winning the by-poll will confirm the family’s control over Valpoi and Sattari all-together. He seems to have an upper hand over his rival Roy Naik in this contest.
Congress to prove its relevance
The Indian National Congress (INC) lost a golden opportunity when it failed to form the government. Even if it fails to win, the Congress will continue to be the largest party with 16 MLAs. However, the party is already vulnerable to losing more MLAs as some of its MLAs are very close to the opposition.
The Congress is unlikely to form the government even if it wins both the seats, given the fact that the ruling government will make up the numbers needed but a win will confirm the public’s support to the party and help in the 2019 general elections.
However, if history tells us anything, Goa’s politics is very unpredictable and can produce unpredictable results. We cannot rule out the Congress forming a government post by-polls, no matter how far fetched it may seem.
Girish Chodankar has put up a good fight against Parrikar but lacks strong allies to help him in Panaji. However, one factor that will favour Chodankar in the by-poll is the slight anti-incumbency against Parrikar. He has promised to solve the major woes of the constituency which have continued to persist even 20 years after Parrikar’s rule.
This is Roy Naik’s first election. He had earlier filed his nominations but withdrew later. Although in Valpoi the circumstances are tilting in the opposition’s favour, he has been adamant about contesting. If Roy manages to win, the win will be a big boost to the fortunes of Ravi Naik (his father), and will be remembered for years to come. If he loses, it’ll be a footnote in Goa’s political history.
Other by-poll Observation
One of the most startling fact to be seen during the by-polls is the support extended by Vijai Sardesai to Parrikar. Sardesai once a strong opponent, has now become the most useful ally to Parrikar. Goa Forward Party (GFP) has been absorbing various Congress leaders and diminishing Congress across the state. This might pay rich dividends to the party in 2022 assembly polls as it will enhances its role.
Whatever the results, it is the excitement before the polls that has been very entertaining.
Image credit: Hindustan Times