Although there are many political parties in the fray. The scenario is much more complex than it appears to be. BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) in Goa is facing two formidable opponents.
GFP (Goa Forward Party) – Goa, Goans and Goemkarponn
GFP has clearly targeted the youth. The party declared the age group of the candidates and even claimed to reserve 80% of private jobs to local youth if elected to power. They also promised to subsidize coconut, fish, rice and pao (drop the price to Rs. 1). Besides declare coconut palm the ‘state tree’ and also restore ‘tree’ status to it.
Mission Bardez seems to be initiative towards winning 5 of 7 assembly seats. The campaign seems to be heavily focused on winning Mapusa (also the venue of the youth convention organised by them). The party is being pushed by two strong candidates, Fatorda MLA Vijay Sardesai and Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte. Both along with Naresh Sawal and Congress MLAs had recently put up a strong opposition against the BJP. Which was missing since BJP came to power in 2012.
The party was disunited when MLA Naresh Sawal moved a resolution to make Marathi a official language of Goa. This move was criticized by Fatorda MLA Vijay Sadesai and said GFP will not support any such move and Sawal may even be asked to leave the party if he continued to pursue the matter.
Sawal received relief early August when Vishwajit Rane extended his support to him for the Bicholim constituency (for which he was later criticized). He however denied any intention of joining the Congress party. Commenting on the development sawal said “If someone is voluntarily supporting me, why would I say no? Maybe Vishwajit wants to finance me for the elections and he is welcome.” As quoted by Herald.
Believe it or not, Rohan Khaunte and Vijay Sardessai coming together has made the GFP a formidable force. The GFP is targeting BJP everyday on various issues (many have hurt BJP). It is only time that will tell how their fortunes turn out. Porvorim constituency is one of BJP forts. Khaunte won Porvorim constituency by a mere margin of 901 votes against Govind Parvatkar (a last minute candidate of BJP denying MP Shripad Naik a chance to contest).
RSS is highly active in the area. One of the schools in Porvorim town with over a thousand students has been known for their affiliations to the right wing organisation. Generation have passed through the school and continue to live in the constituency. They have been exposed the speeches by RSS members and to an extent been influenced. Khaunte will have to keep it all in mind if he wants to win Porvorim again.
AAP (Aam Admi Party)
AAP’s entry in Goa was initially met with defeat in the 2014 general elections. Compared to the hurried contest it fought in 2014, the party seems to be well prepared for 2017 assembly polls. It has been active in the state for the past two years and seems to have gathered quite some support (8000 gathered at their meeting held in Campal recently). However the party still does not have a strong support from any demographic in Goa. It has made it known the demographic the party will target for the 2017 assembly polls.
Its was clear that the AAP’s target of 35 seats was unrealistic. Even the most popular governments of the past have not won such a high number of seats. It is also a party without a base. Salcete taluka which has 8 assembly seats is the base for congress, GVP and GFP.
Bardez taluka has 7 assembly constituencies. Six were won by BJP and one was won by Rohan Khaunte. Constituencies of Poriem and Valpoi are a stronghold of the Ranes. This equation it self reveals that AAP’s 35 seat target is possibly an impossibility.
The party has also made a mistake by saying that the 2017 assembly polls will be fought between AAP and BJP. Ignoring the likes of GVP (Goa Vikas Party), INC (Indian Nationa Congress) and GFP.
The party has over the past few months tried to connect with the women of the state. A sizeable demographic. Besides it has also targeted the mining dependents and tribals of the state. AAP was recently criticized by an NGO for its demand for an increase in the mining cap from the current 20 million to 35 million tonnes per year.
“The request for a raise in the cap (on volume of ore extraction) is already in the Supreme Court. But that is the request of the Bjp government. So how is AAP different from the BJP? And is its proposal to raise the cap new?” Said Claude Alvares of the Goa Foundation in a IANS report.
The party still has hopes with its claims to provide a clean government (corruption free). However as it was observed in the Bihar assembly elections and Goa general elections 2014 that clean image does not win you election but popularity does and that is the ground reality of electoral politics in Goa.
There are still a few months till the elections. Unless AAP has a clear defined strategy and a list of potential candidates to back it up, the party may achieve only mild success in the 2017 assembly polls. Politics is all about strategy.
NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) seems to have lost steam when one of its most active proponent Trajano D’Mello joined the Congress party along with former tourism minister Nilkanth Halarnkar and nine party office bearers. “When family members return back to the family, it is a moment of great joy and today, the return of Nilkanth, Trajano and other leaders gives me a lot of happiness,” Faleiro was quoted in a NT report. This diminished the NCP greatly.
GVP is lead by Fransisco ‘Mickky’ Pacheco. It has two MLAs in the current assembly one being Pacheco himself and the other being Caetano ‘Caitu’ Silva. Nuvem seems to be GVP fort. The party has a concentrated appeal. UGDP (United Goans democratic Front) had almost handed over their reigns to Santa Cruz MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate however in light of an alleged rape case against the MLA shelved their plans to do so.
The elections in Goa have suddenly become very interesting. The scene is crowded and it would be interesting to see who ends up the winner. However opinion polls have presented a very different political scenario from the one that is assumed. It is after all not the final verdict.
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