TOUGH : This time there will be a tough battle in capital city Panaji with four candidates including Babush of BJP, Valmiki Naik of AAP, Elvis Gomes of Congress and Utpal Parrikar contesting as an Independent.
By Rajan Narayan
It would appear that it is winnability and not loyalty or integrity that is the criteria for selecting candidates. The BJP seems to be relying on Babush Monserrate and the Congress is riding on Michael Lobo. AAP is hoping that the five-day fast of Amit Palekar gets converted into a five year term in the assembly. The TMC is relying on the MLAs it has been poaching. The snakes and ladders game will intensify after the results are out!
THE countdown to Valentine’s Day February 14, 2022 elections has started. The nominations start on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. Most of the political parties have announced either their full list or a substantial part of their candidates contesting the elections. Except for a delay with the Goa Trinamool Congress, which was the first to start campaigning but seems to have announced only the leftovers and rejected candidates it had to choose from.
Worse, there is a revolt within the TMC over the exclusion of advocate Antonio Clovis Da Costa (president of the South Goa Advocates Association), who had been appointed as the vice-president of the Trinamool Congress. The president of the SGAA Antonio Clovis Da Costa was the popular choice for the TMC ticket from Velim constituency. Instead, the ticket was given to Benjamin Silva, former Congress MLA who rejected the Congress ticket.
THE story of this year’s February 14, 2022 election is one of settings, match fixing and bribery. Setting is a very popular word in Goa even among the semi-literate and poorer classes. Whenever there is a golmaal, whether it is in the choice of candidates for government jobs or awarding of contracts, inevitably the conclusion is that there has been some setting. Which means that there has been some golmaal in taking the decision such as a bribe or the fact that the candidate is a close relation of the minister or MLA concern. There have been allegations that the marks of one of the candidates appearing for the test for the MBBS admission was fixed by the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant because he was a close relation. In almost every case of an allotment of a party ticket to candidates there is suspicion that there was “setting.”
Rajdeep Sardesai, the noted journalist and TV anchor, insinuates that the Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is the B team of BJP. Which is entirely possible considering that Kejriwal has been offering Hindus in Goa free trips to Ayodhya to see newly constructed Ram Janmanbhoomi Temple, that is of course if AAP wins a majority in the assembly elections.
In its desperation to return to power Pramod Sawant and de facto “chief minister” Satish Dhond have preferred to give Babush Monserrate (against whom a criminal case for attacking the Panaji police station is going on) instead of to Utpal Parrikar, son of late chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar. Despite all the talk of the BJP being different and not believing in dynasty rule like the Congress, more than one member of the family have been given tickets.
In the case of the Monserrates, Jennifer, Babush’s wife has been issued the ticket for Taleigao for the second time. Vishwajit Rane has managed to compel the local BJP High Commands to give the ticket for Poreim, represented by his father Pratap Singh Rane, to his wife Dr Divya Rane. Most shockingly, the BJP has ignored the charges of sexual molestation against Mormugoa MLA Milind Naik and given him a ticket, perhaps under pressure from industrialist Gautam Adani. Reportedly, Milind Naik is responsible for the transport of coal from MPT to Karnataka and he has a huge fleet of trucks.
Except for Mauvin Godinho and Nilesh Cabral the BJP has abandoned the late Manohar Parrikar policy of integrating the minority Catholic community with the saffron brigade. Many Catholic BJP candidates have not been given tickets, namely Carlos Almeida who was the BJP candidate at Vasco-Da-Gama.
MOST Catholic candidates have either shifted to other parties like Michael Lobo has shifted to the Congress, or decided to contest as Independents. Amongst these are the veteran Congress turned BJP MLA Isidore Fernandes, who was the BJP candidate in Canacona. Not just Utpal Parrikar but all the close associates of the late Manohar Parrikar have been dumped by RSS karykarta and BJP organizing secretary Satish Dhond. Former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar who had succeeded Manohar Parrikar, when the latter went to Delhi has defense minister, has been denied the BJP ticket from Mandrem. The BJP seems to be intend on committing suicide, considering that they have preferred candidates who are defectors rather than loyalists. Among those who are contesting on the BJP ticket now is Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte.
Even when it comes to the Congress there are allegations of nepotism and many sitting MLAs have been denied Congress tickets. Similarly, many grassroot workers who have been with the Congress for a long time, are shocked that they have been excluded. This includes the young architect Royla Fernandes in Benaulim, who was even made a general secretary of the Congress party. But at the last moment the Congress gave the party ticket to Tony Dias. This is seen as a setting to favour Captain Venzy Veigas of AAP. Royla, who has been a sarpanch, and was confident that she would get the Congress ticket, has now decided to stand as an Independent candidate against Dayanand Sopte who has been given the BJP ticket.
Just as the BJP is trying to take a ride with Babush Monserrate the Congress has decided to tie up with Michael Lobo who is the biggest fixer of Bardez taluka. The Congress has not only given a ticket to Michael Lobo but also given a ticket to his wife Delilah for the Siolim constituency. Michael has apparently promised the Congress that he will get the party all the seats from Bardez, just as the BJP is expecting Babush to get all the seats from Tiswadi. Babush’s candidate Agnelo Silveira has been given the ticket for St Andre.
NO ALLIANCE FOR AAP
CATCHING up with the Congress and the BJP is the Aam Aadmi party which has already announced Amit Palekar as its Bhandari Samaj chief ministerial face. The AAP is fighting the elections on its own without entering into an alliance with any party. It has repeated several candidates who had been defeated in the last election. This includes Valmiki Naik, who will be contesting the Panaji seat, and Dr Mariano Godinho who will be fighting from Nuvem where his main rival will be veteran Congressman Aleixo Sequeira.
Dr Mariano Godinho was the health officer incharge of the Primary Health Centre in Verna for many years and very popular with the large migrant vote bank in the constituency. Most of the AAP candidates are part of the middle class and not widely known to the public. But the perception is that the AAP is doing a better job on the ground than the Goa Trinamool Congress.
For instance, Arvind Kejriwal himself has been going on door-to-door campaigns. Kejriwal has also made many promises including eliminating corruption within 24 hours if the party comes to power in Goa. The TMC has announced 11 candidates, the only prominent once being Churchill Alemao and his daughter Valanka. This is of course besides their biggest catch. Luizinho Falerio, who is being forced to contest the Fatorda seat against Vijai Sardesai of Goa Forward and Valanka of TMC.
It is entirely possible that Micky Pacheco, who has been denied tickets by the Congress, may also join the TMC or Nationalist Congress Party. The specialty of the TMC is to provide tickets for those who have rejected by the other parties, like in the case of former Congress MLA Benjamin Silva.
The Goa Revolutionary Party led by Manoj Parab is contesting all the 40 seats. However, there are lots of allegation against the GRP which double-crossed Floriano Lobo of the Goa Suraj Party. Even Pundalik Raiker, who had initially announced that he would contest on the GRP ticket, has decided that he will now be standing as an Independent.
The NCP-Shiv Sena alliance have made a very late start. They were hoping for an alliance of all opposition parties including the TMC and the INC. But in the wake of the rejection of the alliance by P Chidambaram and Mamata Banerjee objecting to Sonia Gandhi heading the UPA, they have decided to contest on their own. The only MLA that the NCP had in the current assembly has defected to the TMC and that is Churchill Alemao. The NCP-Shiv Sena combine has yet to announce its list of candidates.
GOA is heading for a kichadi elections with no single party crossing double figures. The only hope is that the Congress and Goa Forward alliance may be able to get ten or more seats. This is unlikely in the case of TMC-MGP alliance. MGP chief Sudhin Dhavalikar has already announced candidates for ten seats.
As Rajdeep Sardesai exactly pointed out the best way of ensuring loyalty is to amend the law to make it clear that no MLA who defects will be made a minister. The only reason why MLAs keep jumping like monkeys from party to party is in the hope of getting a cabinet berth. As dramatized by speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Rajesh Patnekar, who had initially rejected the BJP ticket from Bicholim, but changed his mind after being offered a cabinet post.
NO amount of praying to any or all the gods will guarantee that those elected on the Congress-Goa Forward ticket will not defect. It is not the gods but political parties who decide who will get a cabinet berth.