Panjim, Jan 10: Though the pre-election surveys have predicted an easy win for the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this coastal state of western India, the Goa elections due on February 4 present a picture of a triangular contest between the ruling BJP, opposition Congress and the new entrant AAP of Arvind Kejriwal.
The new coalition of Goa Suraksha Manch formed by former RSS veteran Subhash Velingkar who raised a banner of revolt over the government’s financial support to English medium schools; accused Manohar Parrikar of going back on his assurances, took the RSS leadership by horns compelling the organisation to divest him of his post of Goa RSS Sanghchalak.
The Maharashtra Gomantak Party (MGP) which allied with the BJP in 2012, and Shiv Sena have joined hands with the Goa Suraksha Manch to give a formidable challenge to the ruling BJP and ‘teach them a lesson’ in the ensuing elections.
The BJP had won the 2012 elections under Manohar Parrikar, who became the Chief Minister then. But he was called to assume the mantle of the Defence Minister delegating his responsibility to the present incumbent Laxmikant Parsekar. The BJP this time has decided to contest elections on its own strength.
The party has decided to contest 37 out of 40 seats leaving three seats for independents which the party might support. The party has already launched a mass contact campaign through ‘Vijay Sankalp Yatra’ under Manohar Parrikar and Laxmikant Parsekar covering 35 of the 37 constituencies.
Goa BJP President Vinay Tendulkar exuded confidence that the party will win over 26 seats on its own this time giving a stable and development oriented government to the state.
“We are fighting this election on the plank of good governance and development. We have shown the people that BJP means development,” he said.
But according to political observers, it would be difficult for the BJP as its allies MGP and Shiv Sena have joined hands with the GSM led by RSS rebel Subhash Velingkar. Their alliance is likely to eat into the BJP’s traditional vote bank in several constituencies.
MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar too exuded confidence that his party will form government in Goa, in alliance with GSM and Shiv Sena.
“BJP will be wiped out from the state. For the 2012 elections, majority of the seats were won by BJP with the support of MGP. BJP would not have won 21 seats on their own without MGP,” he claimed recently.
For the Congress party, Goa elections are an important opportunity to salvage its political fortunes which sunk to the lowest level during the 2012 state polls.
Realising the ground reality, the Congress, after initial reluctance, is now ready to forge a pre-poll alliance with like-minded parties like Goa Forward, NCP and Atanasio Monserratte-led United Goans Party, in few constituencies.
After a humiliating defeat in 2012 when it was reduced to a single digit party (of 9 legislators) in Goa Assembly, its Goa unit chief Luizinho Faleiro and All India Congress Committee secretary Girish Chodankar have been trying to bring the party back into a position to fight the polls.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also been trying to make an impact on the coastal state’s polity.
Several groups which were neither with the BJP nor with Congress have joined AAP, which has announced former bureaucrat Elvis Gomes as its chief ministerial face.
Kejriwal has in recent times made frequent visits to Goa to gear up the party rank and file for the polls. AAP has also said that it will contest in all the 40 Assembly constituencies, and expects to repeat the 'Delhi magic' in Goa too.
On Saturday, Kejriwal said that the contest would be bi-polar in the state, with AAP against others.
“BJP and Congress are having a friendly fight in the polls. But their fight is spoilt by AAP. People now have a choice,” the Delhi Chief Minister said, adding that “the fight is between the honest and the corrupt”.
Various pre-poll surveys have predicted the victory of the ruling BJP this time, though with a thin majority. According to ‘India Today-Axis Opinion Poll’ the BJP may get 20-24 seats as compared to 13-14 seats of the Congress. The survey gives AAP only 1-3 seats. The other pre-poll surveys too have predicted 20 plus seats for the BJP. The state goes to polls on February 4.