With just over a month to go for Assembly elections in Goa, political observers feel the Congress may upset BJP’s plans for retaining power in the coastal state, but appear less enthused about Trinamool Congress, whose entry has added colour to the poll campaign.“Congress will win around 20 of the 40 Assembly seats, while the BJP will garner around 15 seats,” a veteran political analyst based in the Goa capital told PTI.“The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) is likely to win 3 to 4 seats, and the Aam admi Party (AAP) will bag a seat or two,” the analyst said.
He attributed the poll prospects of MGP, which came into prominence under the leadership of Goa’s first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar, to its alliance with the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC. “On its own, MGP may have fared very badly. But TMC’s monetary clout will help it,” he added.Former State Election Commissioner Prabhakar Timblo said Congress will form the next government in the coastal state. “Anti-incumbency is very high in the state, and that will work against the BJP,” he added.
The grand old party will win around 20-22 seats, Timblo said. “Congress will do well as long as it does not project those who have crossed their expiry date in politics in these elections,” he added.Timblo was emphatic that neither TMC nor AAP will have much of an impact in the February 14 elections.
Giriraj Pai Vernekar, a political analyst and a BJP sympathizer, said the ruling party presented a report card of its regime’s performance in the last 10 years, while seeking votes.“BJP is not afraid of anti-incumbency as people know that a double-engine government is necessary to continue the state’s development. Otherwise, there is confrontation between the Centre and the state, as in case of West Bengal,” he said.
Durgadas Kamat, General Secretary of Goa Forward Party (GFP), which has a pre-poll alliance with Congress, said that the alliance will be victorious.“There is a groundswell against the BJP and in favour of Congress and GFP as people know we can give a good and honest government,” he said.
AAP Goa unit convener Rahul Mhambrey said the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is projecting “fresh and clean faces” in the next month’s Assembly elections. “People have seen the Delhi model of development. We will emulate it here,” he added.There is also a talk of a grand alliance of all opposition parties that could effectively avoid the split of the traditional Congress votes in many constituencies and cause concern for the ruling BJP. However, nothing concrete has emerged on that front so far.
Prominent leaders like PM Narendra Modi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were in Goa ahead of the elections. BJP chief J P Nadda, Union minister Nitin Gadkari and former Union minister P Chidambaram were other prominent leaders to visit the coastal state.
Two major pre-poll alliances took shape in Goa. Congress has tied up with GFP, a regional outfit that was a part of the Manohar Parrikar government in 2017, while TMC has found a regional partner in the form of MGP, which fought the 2017 polls in alliance with the Shiv Sena but later joined the Parrikar-led government.
In the last few months, many posters featuring Mamata Banerjee’s photo and the slogan ‘Goenchi Navi Sakal’ (Goa’s new dawn) have been put across the state.TMC MPs Mahua Moitra and Derek O’Brien are leading the party’s campaign in Goa.AAP entered Goa’s political scene during the 2017 Assembly elections and tried to build a base in the coastal state.
In the 2017 Goa Assembly polls, BJP won only 13 seats while Congress won in 17 constituencies. However, BJP staked claim to form the government with the support of 3 MGP MLAs, 3 GFP MLAs, two Independents and an NCP MLA under the leadership of Parrikar who resigned as defence minister to return to the coastal state.
After Parrikar’s death in March 2019, then Assembly Speaker Pramod Sawant became the CM. Sawant’s administration has come in for praise from PM Modi for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and vaccination drive.