WITHERS: Contrary to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s expectation, the lotus will not bloom again in Goa, with the talk on the street being that they will get less than 10 seats or perhaps fewer than what the Congress got last time
Going by the claims of various political parties, Goa will need over a hundred seats in the Assembly to accommodate all the MLAs expecting to win. But the talk in the tavernas and the bars is that no single party, whether it is the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party or the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party-Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch-Shiv Sena combine, will get even a simple majority when the results of the elections are announced on March 11, 2017
By Rajan Narayan
DEFENCE minister and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar has been insisting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will get a minimum of 26 seats in the recent Assembly elections, results for which will be announced on March 11.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Luizinho Faleiro is confident that the Congress party, whose former prime minister was accused of using a raincoat when he went for a shower, claims equally vehemently that it will get at least 25 seats. Faleiro does not specify whether this includes the seats that Babush Monserrate may win if he decides to join the party.
GOING by Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will expect to win 38 of the 40 seats in the assembly. It won 68 of the 70 seats in Delhi, wiping out the Congress and the BJP. Fortunately, though he has made no secret of his ambition of becoming the chief minister, Sudin Dhavalikar is not claiming a majority for the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) and Shiv Sena alliance. All that he is stressing is that the MGP will be a key player in the formation of the government.
GOA Forward, which claims it was double crossed by Faleiro at the last moment, is confident of winning five seats. Babush Monserrate, who has taken over the United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP), hopes to capture Panjim and win at least three, if not four, seats. Similarly the Nationalist Congress Party, Goa Vikas Party and Goa Suraj Party all have ambitions of winning many seats.
We cannot forget the more than two dozen independents among these who are sitting MLAs like Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado and Joaquim Alemao who was denied the Congress ticket. There is also A N Nagvekar of ANN Institute and Kenneth Silveira who has challenged Mauvin Godinho in Dabolim.
There is something terribly wrong with the arithmetic of the political parties who have contested the assembly election on February 4. If their claims are to be believed, the number of seats they will win collectively will cross 100 or more. Unfortunately, there are only 40 seats. Even a maths genius cannot add 26, 25, 38 and 20 to make 40. Talk in the social circuit and bars seem to be a much better indicator of the outcome.
Significantly the assessment in the bars and tavernas which are threatened with closure are unanimous that we will have a hung assembly – no party will get a clear majority.
Rush to the bars to feel the pulse of the people who voted. Many of these may close because of the Supreme Court order banning both bars and daaru shops within 500 metres of the national highway. If the order came before polling day, the majority of Goans may have even boycotted the elections.
THE niz Goenkar can do without roti, kapda and makaan. But he cannot do without his daily peg. Most Goans do not stop at one peg and are not happy until the bottle is finished. It is indeed true that drunken driving is the main cause of accidents in the country.
According to the Home Ministry, there is an accident every four minutes somewhere in India. Goa is among the top states when it comes to fatal accidents. But it will lose its unique identity for locals and tourists if the bars are closed.
Goa voted against a merger with Maharashtra because they were afraid that prohibition would be introduced here as it prevailed in Maharashtra despite the assurance of then chief minister of Maharashtra V P Nayak that daaru would not be banned in Goa.
Most domestic tourists will stop coming to Goa if the bars are closed. The main attraction for them is that daaru is cheaper than Coca Cola here. Even five-star hotel packages in the off season include unlimited daaru.
But that apart, it is at the bar that you can feel the pulse of the people. After a few drinks, even the silent voter starts talking and loudly expressing his views. It is fortunate that fights do not break out among supporters of various parties.
Talk in the beginning was that the BJP would do well because Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had spared no effort to defend the BJP and spent one month in Goa guarding the lotus instead of India’s borders. He was more concerned with the raksha of the BJP government and its return to power than the raksha of the country. Never mind and let us listen to the political gossip in the tavernas.
TALK 17 days after polling is that the BJP will be lucky if it gets even 10 seats. Many believe that the BJP will get fewer seats than the Congress did in 2012 because the Catholic minority community which made a major contribution to their victory then has distanced itself from the lotus in 2017.
The most dramatic example was the reluctance of Avertano Furtado and Benjamin Silva to take BJP support this time. Even Catholic BJP MLAs in North Goa, including deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza and chairman of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation Nilesh Cabral may bite the dust as the Church has turned against the BJP.
THE other shock was the revolt of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Subhash Velingkar and the breakup of the alliance with the BJP. There is a strong belief that despite all of Parrikar’s efforts, the BJP will not be able to retain Panjim. In every bar in Mandrem, the bets are hundred to one that Parsekar will lose to Dilip Sopte.
The Congress could have benefited from the anti-incumbency factor. It could have benefited from all the U turns taken by the BJP government. It could have benefited by Parrikar’s U turn on the casino and the medium of instruction issue. It could have benefited from the scams involving the Investment Promotion Board floated by chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar.
It could have benefited from the suffering of the locals and tourists due to notebandi. It could have benefited from the charge against it that in desperation, it imported corrupt elements like Mauvin Godinho and Pandurang Madkaikar. But it squandered its chances by the fighting between Faleiro and former chief ministers Digambar Kamat and Pratap Singh Rane.
If the Congress had remained united and sealed the grand alliance with Goa Forward and the Monster rat of Taleigao, it could even have come close to getting a simple majority. But because of Faleiro’s selfishness, it will be lucky to get 12 to 16 seats. This includes those that could be won by Babush and Goa Forward. Babush could contribute three seats while Vijay Sardessai and Rohan Khaunte may support the Congress.
There are no expectations of the AAP. No doubt in the early stages of the campaign, the AAP attracted a lot of supporters, particularly from the minority community. The enthusiasm evaporated when the selection of candidates were made. Many popular candidates like Judith Almeida in Benaulim were rejected by the Delhiwalas.
INSTEAD, crorepatis like the allegedly corrupt Karl Vaz and bhatkar Ranjit Cota Carwalo – the richest candidate in terms of assets – were chosen. Goans were also irritated with national convenor Arvind Kejriwal and gang speaking to them in Hindi, a language they don’t understand. They were even more upset over people from other states campaigning for Goan AAP candidates. Many did not even know Goa and how to reach the meeting places. The AAP is not expected to get more than five seats.
There is also anger against the MGP. Sudin Dhavalikar is considered the most corrupt of the political leaders. He and brother Deepak Dhavalikar are connected with the Sanathan Sanstha whose followers have been accused of murdering rationalists besides being associated with the bomb blast in Margao.
But the main reservation of MGP workers is that they feel that the Dhavalikars have hijacked the party from its real owners the Bahujan Samaj. The MGP represented a unification of all the non-Brahmin castes by the first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar.
The Dhavalikars are batjis (priests) and are not part of the backward classes. This is like the history of Tamil Nadu, where Tamil Brahmin Jayalalithaa hijacked a party which was formed as a revolt against the Brahmins. The MGP is unlikely to get many seats. It will not bother the Dhavalikars who will join the winning side whoever wins. The Dhavalikars have been part of both the Congress and BJP governments, except this time there is a strong feeling that both brothers will lose the elections.
Whichever party emerges as a single largest party, it is certain that no one will get anything close to 21 seats, the minimum needed to form the government. It is also very clear that independents will play a major part. I am including Babush Monserrate and Rohan Khaunte as independents and even Avertano Furtado and Joaquim Alemao. There may also be surprise winners because of the revolt within the parties and the split in the votes between various communities – in Panjim where the Saraswat vote will be divided between the BJP and the BBSM, or in Salcete where the Congress vote will be divided between the Congress, Goa Forward and the AAP.
I am almost certain that there will be a khichidi. I am quite happy as I live on a diet of kichidi. In the traditional khichidi, there is no chilli or oil and it is considered very healthy food. In five stars hotels, you will find it listed in the category of infant food. A khichdi is a mixture of many dals and rice. Similarly, expect the new government to be a coalition.
It will not be just a saffron government. It will be a rainbow government. I hope they will follow the new slogan of United Colours of Benetton whose front page ad in the Times of India stressed that both men and women must commit to genuine equality this Valentine’s Day. That is why even the English language is changed and most liberals now use the word her which includes him.