The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were going neck and neck in Goa as this article was being written. Any party could make the government in Goa, given how fickle Goa MLAs are and how quickly they change parties. The 40-member state enjoyed political stability over the last five years as the BJP had clear majority in 2012. The days of horsetrading, however, are back in Goa as the Goan voter has delivered a fractured verdict.
What hurt the BJP
Even if the BJP manages to cobble up the government, which seems very unlikely, Goa results are big setback to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who had won the state for the BJP in 2012. Parrikar campaigned relentless and there were talks he would be back as Chief Minister in the state.
The party had simple majority in the state with 21 MLAs and pre-poll ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) had three seats. Parrikar, in his chat with DNA, had boasted that the numbers would be even better as the people of Goa had seen how BJP developed the state.
The party made light of the revolt by Goa RSS chief Professor Subhash Velingkar, who decided to part ways with organisation’s political arm, following protest against BJP regarding medium of education in schools. Velingkar joined hands with MGP, which broke alliance with the BJP on the eve of the elections, and Shiv Sena and launched Goa Suraksha Manch. However, on March 7, Velinkar dissolved the alliance and joined hands with RSS again.
While MGP has won three seats, BJP’s number has gone down from 21 to 13. Outgoing Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar lost by over 4000 votes in a state where a thousand-odd victory margin is considered big. Velingkar had claimed silent support of RSS cadre which Parrikar had debunked. But it’s evident it did matter in the end.
Clearly the voters were not happy with the party’s five year rule in the state. Parrikar ruled for over two years before going to Delhi as the Union Minister, but didn’t fulfil the promises the party had made to the voters. He claimed BJP never said it will throw out the casinos in Goa that were in Mandovi river when they were supposed to be in international waters. After going to town over mining scam where the party had earlier claimed huge numbers, the figure was revised to much lower amount. This clearly hasn’t gone down well with Goa voters.
The party had given nominations to 9 Christian candidates and had hoped that this will bring the traditional Congress Christian vote the BJP way. But this didn’t work as much as it was expected to.
What helped Congress
Congress campaign was in shambles from the first day. Party office bearers did not seem to be in sync with each other. No big leader came here to campaign for the party and that probably helped the candidates as they focused on door-to-door campaign.
What definitely worked for the Congress is that it could keep out controversial names like Babush Monserat, Churchil Alemao and Micky Pacheco. Digambar Kamat was the biggest target in 2012 but he won then, and won again in 2017. His logic was impeccable- we were punished in 2012 for not doing our job, what has the BJP done in the last five years? BJP kept talking about Congress misdeeds, but they became irrelevant in 2017 after five years of BJP rule.
Its alliance with Goa Forward turned out to be a masterstroke as the regional outfit managed to win 3 seats for itself. Thus, the party is better placed to stake claim to the Chief Minister’s post, getting closer to the magic figure of 21. But it is still well short of majority and running a full term government is going to be an extremely tight ropewalk.
What happened to AAP
AAP’s strategy was to target the traditional Congress vote bank- the Christians. They even picked Elvis Gomes as their Chief Ministerial candidate in a bid to woo the Christian voters who dominate the southern Goa. But obviously, it was not enough. The party couldn’t attract the youth in as big numbers and failed to connect with the aam voter like in Delhi.
How MGP’s strategy to emerge kingmaker failed
MGP had entered into a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in 2012 and as a result could not extract much after the saffron partner won simple majority then. This time the party parted ways with BJP before polls and hoped to win 6-7 seats on its own, with the help from RSS’ breakaway, and then play ball with BJP, which many hoped would emerge as the single largest party. However, their have almost been dashed with the alliance winning just about 4 seats, which cannot propel BJP to the power.