TRIUMPHANT: Pramod Sawant has finally stepped out of the shadow of his late mentor Manohar Parrikar and proved he can lead the BJP to victory.
By Rajan Narayan
Though the vote share of the BJP increased only by 0.3% this assembly elections on February 14, 2022 it has benefited by the split in votes caused by spoilers TMC, RGP, AAP, NCP and the MGP. Unlike in 2017 the BJP got to the halfway mark of 20 by itself and is all set to from the government with the help of the two MGP MLA’s and three Independents including the ophthalmologist who owns Vision Hospital, Dr Chandrakant Shetye!
THE Bharatiya Janata Party defied presumed anti-incumbency sentiments against both the party and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to bag 20 of the 40 seats in the Goa Legislative Assembly. The BJP has staked its claim to form the government with the help of Sudin Dhavlikar and Jit Arolkar from the MGP and the three Independents, taking its total tally in the Legislative Assembly to 25.
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party disowned its alliance with the Goa Trinamool Congress consequent to Mamata Banerjee’s party and the IPAC marketing brigade scoring a duck. We understand that even the Independent MLA from Curtorim, Reginaldo Lourenco, who was humiliated by the Congress, has pledged support to Pramod Sawant who is the prospective candidate for chief minister’s post anew. It maybe recalled that when Reginaldo Lourenco had second thoughts about his defection to the TMC and sought to return to the Congress, he was rebuffed by Digambar Kamat. Reginaldo contested as an Independent and won by a huge majority.
One moral lesson of this Valentine’s Day election is that the electorate has rejected seven of the 10 Congress candidates who defected to the BJP. The only exceptions are Babush Monseratte, his wife Jennifer Monseratte and Rohan Khaunte who was part of the Goa Forward Party trio.
This time around the alliance of the Indian National Congress with the Goa Forward was of no use to it. Unlike in the 2017 elections when Vijay Sardessai played kingmaker this time, the only seat Goa Forward could win was Vijay Sardessai’s own seat in Fatorda.
IT must be a matter of great satisfaction to Pramod Sawant and his mentor Satish Dhond that they got 20 seats on their own without the help of Atanasio Monseratte (Babush). The Taleigao strongman was given the Panaji seat, overriding the demand of Utpal Parrikar, the elder son of the late Manohar Parrikar. Babush was given the ticket as he had assured Satish Dhond that he would secure all the five seats in Tiswadi taluka for the BJP. However, he could only deliver two seats, his own in Panaji and that of his wife in Taleigao. Even in Panaji it was a close shave with Babush winning by the narrowest margin ever with his lead over Utpal Parrikar being only 718 votes. To Babush’s shock the St Andre seat, which he allotted to his old friend Francisco Silveira, was won by Viresh Borkar of the Revolutionary Goans Party. Which is not really surprising as the St Andre constituency has a large number of families whose members migrated to France, thanks to help given by the late Fr Freddy. Their relatives back home were probably enamoured by the GRP promises of persons of Goan origin being extended special privileges, such as reservation of government jobs and admission to professional colleges.
Babush’s nominee Janita Madkaikar, wife of former Congress-turned-BJP MLA Pandurang Madkaikar, lost to Rajesh Faldessai. Babush’s protegee Tony Rodrigues lost to “Godfather-General of Goons” Rodolfo Fernandes. A bitter Babush is complaining that he did not get any support from the BJP karyakarta who actively campaigned against him even in Panaji.
JUST as Babush Monserrate did not prove to be an asset to the BJP, Michael Lobo also turned out be a liability to the Congress. Michael and Delilah were given the tickets for Calangute and Siolim in the face of strong opposition from Congress. Michael Lobo, a former BJP MLA, as in the case of Babush Monserrate in Panaji, had promised to secure all the seven in the Bardez taluka for the BJP. Eventually, the Congress succeeded in getting only four of the seven seats. Even this was due to the victory of former advocate general, Carlos Ferreira, in Aldona, after a stiff battle with Glen Ticlo.
Admittedly, the Congress got only 11 of the 40 seats in the assembly, unlike in 2017 when it won 17 of the 40 seats. The vote share of the Congress fell from 28.5% to 23%. Comparatively, the vote share of the BJP whose tally went up from 13 seats to 20 as compared to 2017, went up only by 0.8% from 32.5% in 2017 to 33.3% in 2022. Despite only a marginal increase in its vote share the BJP managed to get seven additional seats by fielding new faces and shunning defectors.
Though the Congress lost the election it was a close call as in many constituencies their candidates lost by very narrow margins. For instance, in Ponda the victory margin of Ravi Naik who had defected to the BJP, was only seven votes. Even more dramatically the BJP won the Navelim seat, Luizinho Falerio’s historical constituency, defeating two formidable women challengers – advocate Pratima Coutinho and Valanka Alemao. Almost 50% of the candidates who got voted are new faces.
THE poor performance of the Congress has been primarily attributed to the splitting of votes. In many traditional Congress constituencies, the TMC, the GRP and AAP, not to mention the MGP, were also in the fray. In these multi- cornered contest the votes got split, throwing up several surprises such as Antonio Vas, Independent candidate, defeating AAP rival Alina Fernandes, and Congress candidate Olencio Simoes from Cortalim.
Interestingly, both the deputy chief ministers in the Pramod Sawant cabinet, lost. Chandrakant Kavlekar from Quepem lost to Altone D’Costa by a large margin of 3,600 votes and the other former deputy chief minister, Manohar Azgaonkar, who shifted from Pernem to take on Congress leader Digambar Kamat, lost by an even bigger margin of 7,800 votes. It is obvious that Muslim voters of Moti Dongor remain faithful to Digambar Kamat.
The elections have been a set back not only for the Congress but also the MGP which had entered into an alliance with the TMC. The MGP hoped to benefit from the partnership with master strategist Prashant Kishor, who claims to have been responsible for the victory of the BJP both in the 2014 and 2019 elections, and the victory of several chief ministers including Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi and Stalin in Tamil Nadu.
NO TMC SEATS
DESPITE all the time, effort and huge amount of money spent in the mass recruitment of second tier leaders, the TMC failed to win a single seat. On the contrary the TMC also affected the prospects of the MGP which had to be content with just two seats – that of Jit Arolkar in Mandrem and Sudin Dhavlikar from Madkai. The president of the MGP, Pandurang Madkaikar, brother of Sudin, lost from Priol. Not surprisingly Sudin Dhavlikar, who even had delusions of becoming the chief minister, did not respond to any of the calls from Abhishek Banerjee, general secretary of the TMC, and IPAC’S Prashant Kishor — both had flown down to Goa encouraged by the exit poll predictions.
As in the case of the other states going in for their assembly polls, the Aam Aadmi party seems to be doing much better than the Trinamool Congress. Maybe in a case of second time lucky the AAP managed to bag two seats, with Captain Venzy Viegas being a giant killer and defeating Churchill Alemao and Cruz Silva winning the Velim seat. With AAP getting a 2/3rd majority in Punjab, it would appear that Arvind Kejriwal is more likely to be the main challenger to Narendra Modi in the 2024 Parliamentary elections. Unlike Prashant Kishor who has been focussing on small states with very few members of Parliament like Goa and the North East.
Arvind Kejriwal seems to have better mastery on the numbers game. We understand that Kejriwal’s next target is Gujarat, the home state of Narendra Modi. Never mind that Narendra Modi now considers himself a resident of Varabasi (old Benares) from where he won Parliamentary elections.
Despite an AAP in Punjab there is no gainsaying the fact the honours go to BJP in this phase of elections to five states. The BJP’s greatest triumph is that for the first time a political party has won for the second time in succession in UP. The BJP with over 330 seats has got almost double the seats of its closest challenger — the Samajwadi Party. Even more impressive is the fact that Yogi Adityanath, contesting his first assembly elections, won by an incredible margin of over a lakh votes from Gorakhpur.
The only worry for Modi now is that Yogi Adityanath is being perceived as an alternative to Narendra Modi for the post of prime minister if the BJP wins the 2024 elections. The BJP also triumphed in Uttarakhand and Manipur. Thus, the BJP won four of the five states which went to polls in this phase of elections.
While the BJP stars seem to continue to shine, those of the Congress continue to dim. The Congress virtually committed suicide in Punjab by appointing Navjot Singh Sidhu, a comedian but a divisive politician as president of the party. Uttar Pradesh has dramatized that Priyanka Vadra is not more effective as the face of the Congress, with the Congress getting only two seats.
IN Punjab due to the mismanagement of the clash between Captain Amrinder Singh, former chief minister, and Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Congress got only 18 seats as against the 92 of AAP. In Uttarakhand the BJP got a majority with 47 seats as against the 19 seats won by the Congress. The Congress also lost to Manipur which allied with regional partners. The Congress, which was the single largest party in 2017 with 28 seats, got only five seats this time.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this Goa elections, which has no parallel in any of the other four states which went to the polls, is the wedding march. Goa is the only state in the country where three of the four couples who contested the elections were victorious. Michael Lobo got his wife Delilah elected from Siolim, after switching from the BJP to the Congress. Babush Monseratte saved face by ensuring at least the victory of his wife Jennifer from Taleigao. Vishwajit Rane, who got his father to retire, got his wife Dr Divya Rane elected from Poriem — which was represented by her sasu pai Pratap Singh Rane. Vishwajit retained his Valpoi seat .