Saturday 17 August 2019

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Politics | Lok Sabha '99

Voters' turnout would decide South Goa's winner

 

It is not a cakewalk for the Congress merely on the basis of statistical calculations nor for the Bharatiya Janata Party just because of unimaginable polarisation taking place in several areas of South Goa in favour of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The composition of the Mormugao constituency with 21 Assembly segments is such that it is just difficult to predict results on the basis of a wave felt only in certain areas. In fact, the situation is so fluid that the voters' turnout in the 'specific areas' would ultimately decide who would win.

Whether one likes it or not, Salcete becomes the decisive factor in this constituency, consisting of total six talukas, along with the Assembly segments like Cortalim and Vasco in Mormugao taluka.

Perhaps this is the reason why the seat is always won by late Erasmo Sequeira (UGP) twice, Eduardo Faleiro (Congress) five times and by Churchill Alemao (UGDP) and Francisco Sardinha (Congress) once each. The only exception is Mukund Shinkre (MGP), who was MP in the first election held in 1967.

The Lok Sabha election of 1998 is itself an eye opener in this regard. Combination of votes polled by Alemao and Sardinha goes to over 1,89,000, compared to around 92,000 votes polled by Ramakant Angle last year, creating a huge margin of 97,000, though the BJP actually lost by around 8000 votes. The MGP could poll only around 8500 votes.

The BJP was leading in almost 12 out of 21 Assembly segments even last time, dividing the rest between four for the Congress and five for the UGDP. But one Salcete turned the tables against BJP's Ramakant Angle, who could not garner more than 18,000 votes there while getting the lead only in Margao.

On the contrary, Sardinha of the Congress polled over 45,000 and UGDP's Alemao was second with little more than 42,000. If you go with the simple logic which Churchill has been posing through his public meetings, the BJP was lagging behind by almost 69,000 votes (of the Congress and the UGDP together ) together in Salcete alone, washing away all the leads Angle managed to get in other segments.

Though the mood is definitely much more in favour of the BJP and prime minister Vajpayee this time, only the 'political magic' of poor turnout in Salcete could turn the tables upside down. It would also require a
miraculous kind of polarisation in favour of Angle in other areas, to make him win the seat.

Angle is thus very much right when he says that his victory would also depend upon how many votes Dr Wilfred de Souza could split as the candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party. Realising this, the Alemao brothers are seen consistently hammering on the minds of the electorate that 'voting for Dr Willy is voting for the BJP'.

But what also matters is the local issue of non-expansion of the cabinet headed by chief minister Luizinho Faleiro. Perhaps this is the reason, except a few handful of MLAs among the 12 Congress is having in South Goa, are not seen very active on the scene.

In fact their hard-core workers are seen either working for the BJP or the NCP while most of them are inactive. Another reason for this, cite the sources, is the way Joaquim Alemao grabbed the ticket last minute, sidelining a good Parliamentarian like Uday Bhembre.

Eyebrows are also raised in political circles when speakers like Churchill and some of his close associates churning out their energies criticising Dr Willy and Angle while Sardinha and even Luizinho are seen taking keen interest in national scenario while speaking at public meetings, rather than the local factors.

On the other hand is the Vajpayee wave and the post-Kargil nationalist fervour which has spread like a wild fire in the state. Contrary to Alemao's claim that the he would also get the MGP votes with even Quepem MLA Prakash Velip joining the Congress, traditional MGP voters and even several Congressmen are seen shifting their allegiance towards the BJP.

With local cadres and leaders of other parties joining the BJP day by day and moving around campaigning to make Vajpayee the prime minister, they are trying hard to enthuse the electorate. But with the state going for polls once again in three months, it is an acid test for the BJP cadres to pull out the voters of the overall lull that is visible everywhere.

Even Faleiro admits that non-enthusiasm amongst the voters is the matter to be worried about. In addition, around 5000 pilgrims are believed to be planning to go for the feast of Vailankani the same time when Goa is going for polls on 5 September.

It would be thus not a victory of the party which carries more influence among the people but who actually succeeds in getting more number of his supporters for pushing the button of their choice on the electronic voting machine. Rather than the party, the cadres would thus matter.






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Lok Sabha '99

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