The BJP in its latest candidate list for the Lok Sabha Elections has fielded Pallavi Dempo from Goa. Interestingly, the executive director of Dempo Industries, Pallavi Dempo, is the first woman candidate in the BJP’s Goa poll history. The BJP has declared Dempo’s candidature from South Goa in its latest list of 111 candidates for the uupcoming general elections.

By Rajan Narayan

THE Bharatiya Janata party has chosen Pallavi Timblo-Dempo as its candidate for the South Goa parliamentary seat. This is in accordance with the wishes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have a woman candidate for the south Goa seat. The BJP has already confirmed that Shripad Naik will be contesting the North Goa parliamentary seat.
The decision to field Pallavi Timblo-Dempo from South Goa has not gone well with the BJP cadres. Amongst those who stake a with good reasons is former BJP south Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar. Narendra Sawaikar was very close to the late chief minister, Manohar Parrikar. I recall that it was Narendra Keshav Sawaikar who sent a legal notice on behalf of Manohar Parrikar during my last year as editor of the “OHeraldo” in 2001; asking newspapers not to carry any reports about Parrikar’s family members or they would be sued in court.
There are also attempts to connect the electoral bonds of the Dempo family to the selection of Pallavi Dempo as the BJP candidate for south Goa. The announcement of Pallavi Dempo as the south Goa BJP candidate will create problems for the Congress party. The Congress party has not announced its candidate for either north or south Goa.
In light of freezing the accounts of the Congress party by the Income-Tax department, the Congress claims it has no funds to fight the forthcoming parliamentary election. Any Congress candidate chosen for South Goa will expect funds from the party. Neither the Goa Forward party nor the Congress may want to field a candidate from south Goa. If Pallavi Dempo reaches out to Congress and Goa Forward she could get elected unopposed.

PERHAPS it is not widely known outside the powerful and influential GSB community of Goa that Pallavi is born a Timblo, daughter of the Timblo family of Margao. She is the niece of mining and hospitality baron Audhut Timblo of the Fomento Group of Companies. Just as it may not be widely known in Deviya Rane is also a daughter of the Timblo family. Pallavi and Deviya are first cousins.
Pallavi Timblo did her graduation from Chowgule College in Margao. She also has degree in business management from MIT Pune. Pallavi, 49 years old, moved to Panaji after her marriage to Shrinivas Dempo in 1992. I recall being invited to the wedding reception at the Taj Holiday Village in Candolim.
Right from the beginning Pallavi has been closely connected with the business affairs of the Dempos. Starting with the Dempo Charitable Trust, Pallavi has been looking after the educational institutions of the group. This includes the Demphe College of Art and Science, Demphe HSSC, Dempo College of Commerce & Economics and Dempo HSSC.
Pallavi Dempo also actively looks after tge English daily “The Navhind Times, the oldest English newspaper in Goa. She also involved her with the Dempo housing diversification, namely Deveshree Builders. We recall Shrinivas Dempo acknowledging the support of his wife Pallavi when he decided to sell his mining interests in Goa to the Vedanta group. The group is now basically involved in construction and shipping and has diversified into shipyards in Gujarat.

AS the chosen BJP candidate for south Goa for the Lok Sabha parliamentary elections coming now, Pallavi will have the major challenge of being accepted by the voters of South Goa. She will have to establish an emotional connection with south Goa which she said goodbye to three decades ago. South Goa has been historically the stronghold of the Congress party. It has elected a BJP candidate on only two occasions. The first was Ramakant Angle, a South Goa businessman.
More recently when Manohar Parrikar was chief minister, Narendra Sawaikar was elected from South Goa. The longest-serving Congress MP of South Goa is to date Eduardo Faleiro, who was re-elected four times. South Goa moreover has been a Catholic bastian. Other Catholic MP elected on the Congress ticket includes Francisco Sardinha who is the sitting Congress member and Churchill Alemao.
Since south Goa has been predominantly a Catholic-dominated district it is thanks to the shrewd initiatives taken by the late Manohar Parrikar, that many Catholic politicians contested and won the assembly election on the BJP ticket. Many Congress MLAs defected to the BJP including former Congress chief minister, Digambar Kamat, and Nuvem MLA Alexio Sequeira more recently. It is former Congressmen who sustain the BJP in Goa.
In the light of all this it is not known to what extent Pallavi Dempo standing on a BJP ticket will be acceptable to the minority communities in south Goa. Indeed, Alexio Sequeira is reportedly canvassing a BJP ticket for Churchill Alemao now.
There are several urgent issues that the south Goa candidates for parliament will have to address. Perhaps among the most sensitive is the cancellation of the Indian passport of those who opted for registration of their birth in Portugal. Successive BJP governments have tended to focus on the development of north Goa. The BJP has been accused of neglecting south Goa. There are not enough employment opportunities in south Goa. The majority of government jobs go to those residing in the north Goa constituency. This is particularly true of jobs in the Health department and Goa Medical College & Hospital.
Except for Alexio Sequiera no other BJP MLA is a member of the Pramod Sawant government. Digambar Kamat has been waiting to be rewarded for switching to the BJP. There were early reports that Digambar Kamat had staked the claim to the south Goa parliament seat. There are other issues in south Goa including the preservation of Dabolim airport. In Margao itself, the delay in allotting land for a kabrastan for the growing Muslim community is a major issue.
There is also a need to revive the industrial estate in Cuncolim. The educational infrastructure also needs strengthening in south Goa. There is an urgent need for new industrial units in Assolna, Velim, Cuncolim belts. Not much has been done even in promoting cultural tourism in south Goa. The Cabo da Rama Fort and Bhoothnath temple complex in Quepem need to be promoted.
Many of the richest monuments of south Goa have eroded and need to be restored. More importantly the electoral roles have shown a fall in voters in south Goa. There is been large-scale migration from south Goa due to shortage of job opportunities. This trend has to be reversed.
The number of women voters in south Goa is greater than the number of male voters. Therefore, it is all the more significant that a women candidate hailing from the south has been chosen by the BJP. The only women MP from Goa was Sanyogita Rane, who was elected from north Goa.

PALLAVI Dempo will be the first women candidate in south Goa from the majority or niche Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community. She could get the support of women voters cutting across party lines if she presents herself as an educated, fair-minded candidate. It is heartening to note that in her first press conference she promised to protect the unique culture of Goa, and tradition of communal harmony.
This is the second time that the Dempo family has dabbled in Goan politics. Vasantrao Dempo contested in the first assembly election in Goa. It is not widely known that Pallavi Dempo is also a trustee of the Moda Goa Foundation, a fashion and textile museum founded by the late Goan fashion icon Wendell Rodrigues. There are many facets to Pallavi Dempo’s personality which will play a role in making her an appealing and refreshing candidate for south Goa and its larger good.

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