Source: 
Money Control
Author: 
Date: 
10.03.2022
City: 

As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rushed across the finish line in Goa, Sadanand Tanavade, Goa’s BJP president, attributed the party’s victory in the assembly elections to the “good work of the party at the Centre”.

“We were confident we will form the government. There is no one particular factor that worked in our favour except the exemplary work done by the party at the Centre. That has paid rich dividends in the state assembly election,” Tanavade told Moneycontrol.com.

While Pramod Sawant, the incumbent chief minister, won in his long-standing  Sanquelim assembly constituency by a meagre 600 votes over his Congress opponent Dharmesh Saglani, he did not forget to thank the party and the party workers. “I owe this victory, even though by a small margin, to the party and the workers,” Sawant said soon after the votes were counted.

But not everyone is lauding the workers. At least not Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, who retained the Panaji seat by defeating Utpal Parrikar, the independent candidate and son of Manohar Parrikar, perhaps the state’s most loved chief minister in recent times. Without mincing words, Monserrate lamented that the BJP cadre has not embraced him and was unofficially helping Parrikar. Not only him, the workers were also working against his wife Jennifer Monserrate who retained the neighbouring Taleigao constituency, he alleged.

“I feel the BJP cadre has not accepted me in the party. If he (Utpal) could get so many votes, it means the cadre shifted their votes to him. I can say only that the BJP leadership here did not manage to do damage control," Monserrate told reporters after claiming victory over Utpal Parrikar by a margin of nearly 800 votes.

When reached by phone, Utpal Parrikar did not comment on Monserrate’s statement and his own electoral loss, stating that he was in a meeting and would “call back”. This story will be updated with his response.

Until yesterday evening, the Congress was bursting with enthusiasm, with Girish Chodankar expressing “100% certainty” that the Congress would form the government and “the people have voted decisively for a change”. Over a phone call, Chodankar had said that if need be, INC would join hands with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to form a government. Less than 24 hours later, he has accepted “the failure of not taking the party to success”.

“I take full responsibility for the results,” Chodankar said.

So has BJP’s Joseph Robert Sequeira, who lost to heavyweight Michael Lobo in the Calangute constituency. Lobo, who was being touted as the INC’s probable chief minister, had recently switched from the BJP to Congress. When asked about his electoral loss despite a massive BJP win, Sequeira stoically attributed it to the will of the people.

“There was nothing wrong with my strategy, neither did anything work against me. It is people’s wish, and there is nothing I can do about it,” he told Moneycontrol.com.

In a conversation yesterday, Amit Palekar, AAP’s chief ministerial candidate, had admitted that the prestigious chair would not be his in 2022, but he was hopeful that AAP would leave an impact. AAP won only two of the total 40 seats it had contested in Goa. Palekar did not answer calls today, but Capt Venzy Viegas - who wrested the Benaulim seat from heavyweight Churchill Alemao - said he is very pleased with the AAP’s performance.

“This time we have a bigger vote share, and two seats are not too bad to begin with. We have entered Goa, and soon AAP’s war cry of honesty and no-corruption will take over the state. Look at what happened in Punjab. We could repeat that landslide in Goa,” Capt Viegas, a political debutant, told Moneycontrol.com.

“Once any state has tasted the flavour of AAP’s method of governance, it will never go back to another political party,” he added.

Despite an expected defeat, former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who lost to Jit Arolkar who was backed by the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), is not ready to hang his political boots or slam the door on the BJP, a party that he quit just before the elections to contest the Mandrem seat as an independent candidate.

“I did not abandon BJP. They did not give me a ticket and I was compelled to quit the party,” he told Moneycontrol.com. He added that politics, for him, was a social concept. “I will not stop pursuing my social activities in the field of education, specially in my catchment areas of Mandrem and neighbouring constituencies,” he said.

When I reminded him that yesterday he had said that he “was equidistant from both BJP and INC and would wait for an offer,” Parsekar said time will decide everything. For now, he is neither committing to an active electoral politics nor is he shutting the door on BJP, his political parent. “Time will tell,” he repeated.

While politicians are having a hectic day, analysts and watchdogs are cynical about the future of Goa and its politics.

“In Goa, it is not only about bad politicians, it is also about the voters. Nothing will change in the state until its people will learn to vote better and legislators start thinking of the people and not only of themselves,” said Bhasker Assoldekar, State Coordinator, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-partisan, non-governmental organisation which works in the area of electoral and political reforms.

“In Goa, the party-label is almost irrelevant. People vote for individuals regardless of how many times they have defected from one party to another. That should change,” Assoldekar added.

“No matter who rules, there is no hope for Goa. A new government will be elected, but the deceit, the dread, the dacoity will continue to reign supreme. Everything will change and yet nothing will change. That's the only guarantee of 2022,” Dr Oscar Rebello, physician, and formerly of Goa Bachao Andolan, told Moneycontrol.com.

“For years, people have voted for the same people, the voters need to accept change. They don’t. They do not trust new blood, new parties. And if this continues, Goa is doomed,” Dr Rebello added.

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