CAPITAL: The BJP has devoted a large share of its budget to strengthening tourism infrastructure –to fulfil its ambition of making Goa the tourism capital of India.
The BJP’s victory is due to its ability to attract several Independents and senior Congress leaders like Ravi Naik who joined the party. The perception was that the Congress would get a majority but it was not to be and the BJP won. Independents like Rohan Khaunte switched over to the BJP because “without power you cannot undertake development!
By Arvind Pinto
THIS time around Goans cannot say that the BJP in Goa had to buy its MLAs to stay in power. Out of a total assembly membership of 40, the BJP legitimately bagged 20 seats and therefore was the largest party. Besides their 20 the party managed to coax the MGP and a few Independents to support them and were in a comfortable majority to form the government; which they did.
How did the BJP come back to power? Despite poll predictions that it would not make it to the winning post, not only did the party get 20 of their members elected, but shrewd BJP managers also roped in MGP’s two members as also Independents to present a comfortable majority before the governor of Goa to stake its claim to form the government.
Let’s look at the figures. Compared to 2017, the BJP has made gains in terms of the number of seats it has won: 13 in 2017 versus 20 in 2022. The Congress has lost seats, from 17 in 2017 to just 11 this time. The BJP’s vote share has also increased marginally, from 32 per cent in 2017 to 33.3 per cent in 2022, according to the Election Commission’s interim data. The Congress has also logged a near five per cent dip from its 2017 vote share of 28 per cent.
SPLITTING OF THE ELECTORATE
THE story of Goa’s 2022 elections can be easily read in finding that the BJP in many constituencies won by default One example is at the southern end of Goa, Canacona, where three losing candidates (from the Congress and two Independents) averaged over 5,000 votes, and another 1,000-plus each went to the Trinamool Congress and the Revolutionary Goans, but Ramesh Tawadkar of the BJP emerged the “victor” having collected 9,063 votes out of 29,132. Therefore, many of the Congress candidates lost because of votes split amongst various parties.
This danger of votes being split among various candidates had been warned against by several commentators. While the Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi party felt that opening their account in Goa was a good decision, it did not spell right for the main Opposition, the Congress. As some analysts say the peculiarity this time is that there were many choices; parties with national ambitions were here to increase their vote percentages, so as to gain national recognition, even by recklessly splitting secular votes.
Similarly, in the crucial North Goa constituency of Mapusa, the INC and the TMC candidates cut apart a comfortable anti-incumbency majority, which allowed the notably unpopular dynast Joshua de Souza to squeak through. Also significant is Navelim in the heart of South Goa, where Ulhas Tuenkar of the BJP won after tallying just 24.2 per cent of votes, with the TMC close behind (22.2 per cent) followed by the INC (17.8 per cent) and the NCP (12.2 per cent).
While the AAP did manage to get two of its candidates elected, the TMC that had wooed several jaded politicians from the Congress had the humiliation of biting the dust! Pramod Sawant, the chief minister who had the humiliation of nearly losing his seat, was able to continue due to his mentor being the late Manohar Parrikar. Realising that the Goan electorate is evenly divided into Catholic and Hindu votes, Sawant evenly sought to play by having candidates from both communities. Several of the BJP candidates are Catholics and the choice of candidates was not so much their religious affiliation as their winnability.
Sawant shrewdly opted for Babush Monserrate for Panaji against Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar. It is known that Babush Monserrate is close to Home Minister Amit Shah at the Centre and it would have been difficult for anyone to dislodge him from Panaji as long he had the blessings of Shah.
The Congress despite having Chidambaram as its strategist, the party was unable to bring together a coalition of opposition parties. This is partly due to the fact that both the AAP and more so the TMC having no base in Goa, by necessity had to poach politicians from other parties. After the last elections the BJP poached several Congressmen, the remaining Congressmen now fell for these new parties, in the hope that it would revive their failing careers. Sadly, none of these were successful.
AS with most of our elections in recent BJP times, despite the policing by the Election Commission, money plays a dominant role. The BJP being the party in power and the party at the centre, had access to party funds. So this election in Goa like the last one was no different. While the BJP has just 20 seats, its plans would be to ensure that the Independents join the party to ensure that they have the majority. Once the party has its majority, like the last time round, it would not mind dropping the MGP to go solo in governing the state. For in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, the only permanency is power!