CATHOLICS FOR VIRIATO FERNANDES… By Olav Albuquerque

A poor retired navy captain in Goa!

By Dr Olav Albuquerque

THAT the BJP would win the north Goa parliamentary seat while the Congress’ Captain Viriato Fernandes would emerge victorious in south Goa was a foregone conclusion. This is because south Goa is dominated by Catholics, who decisively swung the nation’s only Opinion Poll in 1967, in favor of retaining Goa as a separate state with a separate culture, language and identity.
The south versus north divide has always been a bone of contention within this tiny state because those who settled here from Maharashtra, like the late Dayanand Bandodkar, who originally hailed from Tuljapur in Maharashtra, spoke Marathi, whereas Goan Catholics spoke their native Konkani. The Konkani spoken in Bardez and Pernem even today is markedly different from the Konkani spoken in Salcette or Sashtikaar as it is still called.

MONEY IMPACTS
MONEY does impact elections whether we like it or not, but it seems the south Goa voters were unimpressed by the wealth of BJP candidate Pallavi Shrinivas Dempo, the third richest Lok Sabha candidate from Goa this election. In the outgoing Lok Sabha, out of the 514 sitting Lok Sabha MPs, 25 have declared assets worth more than Rs100 crore, according to the self-sworn affidavits analyzed by the poll rights body Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
During the last two assembly elections, those canvassing for a particular political party, visited houses in some villages distributing cash and even liquor bottles with bed-sheets thrown in to woo the voters. While some voters accepted the gifts, others refused to do so and turned these people away.

BJP FULL OF BILLIOINAIRES
THE BJP has the highest number of MPs who are billionaires in the outgoing Lok Sabha. There were 25 billionaires in all. The BJP, with 294 MPs in the outgoing Lok Sabha, had nine sitting MPs who had declared assets worth over Rs100 crore in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
Forty-nine-year-old Pallavi Shrinivas Dempo declared in her affidavit filed before the Election Commission of India that she possessed moveable assets of Rs255.45 crore while her total assets was a whopping Rs1,361 crore. She has shares worth Rs186 crore in Dempo Holdings and luxury apartments in London, Dubai, Mumbai and in Altinho, Caranzalem and Miramar.

SHARP CONTRAST
IN sharp contrast winner we have Viriato Fernandes, who retired as a captain from the Indian Navy, who declared assets of Rs5.27 crore and liabilities of Rs3.79 lakh — making him a poor working man as far as wealth is concerned before rival Pallavi Dempo, who has a post-graduate degree in business management from MIT university in Pune.
Interestingly, Capt Viriato Fernandes has a Bachelor of Engineering degree which he got from Goa University at the age of 23 in 1992, and acquired a diploma in supply chain management in the year 2017. Which raises the question as to why he chose to go back to study after 25 years? But that is his personal life.
In the case of Pallavi Dempo her industrialist husband Shrinivas Dempo declared moveable assets worth Rs994.84 crore, making her among the richest to be contesting the elections. Supriya Sule, the daughter of NCP founder Sharad Pawar, her total assets stood at more than Rs166.5 crore, up from Rs127.8 crore in 2019. Sule has emerged the winner in Maharashtra’s Baramati district which has always been a stronghold of the Pawar family. Supriya Sule defeated her sister-in-law Sunetra Pawar who is the wife of Ajit Pawar.

PERMANENT GOAL?
AJIT Pawar is the nephew of Sharad Pawar, which proves the axiom that in politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies but only a permanent goal – which is to capture power. This is simply because those who are wealthy have nothing else to aspire for but power, which they use to enact laws favouring the industrialists who funded the political parties which gave them tickets.
In April this year, the Economic Offences Wing gave a clean chit in an alleged Rs25,000-crore cooperative bank scam to Sunetra Pawar by filing a closure report in January — details of which emerged later.
The EoW was investigating the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) case, claimed no criminal offence was made out in the transactions allegedly linked to Ms Pawar and her husband. Tragically, Sunetra Pawar lost to Supriya Sule, but it is unlikely that the charges against her will be reopened after the closure report was accepted by the court.
The filing of the report has given more ammunition to the Opposition, which has consistently accused the BJP of using Central agencies and police forces against leaders opposed to it and either going slow on the investigation or giving them a clean chit as soon as they align with the saffron party. The Opposition parties call this the BJP’s “washing machine.”
In North Goa, BJP’s Shripad Yesso Naik (2,50,799 votes) defeated Congress candidate Ramakant Khalap (1,39,446 votes) by a margin of 1,11,353 votes. In 1999, Naik was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha from north Goa constituency. As of 2019, he has held his seat in this constituency winning continuously in 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019.
Unlike in south Goa which dumped Francisco Sardinha in favour of Captain Viriato Fernandes, the 72-year-old Shripad Yesso Naik looks like he is here to stay for a long time.

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