Monday 19 November 2018

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Politics | Lok Sabha '99

Poor turnout in Bardez & Tiswdi may affect Khalap

 

Having joined the Congress to contest Lok Sabha elections, Ramakant Khalap, former union minister, has left his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party in total distress. After suddenly withdrawing both its candidates from the fray, the party leaders are now fighting over whom to support.

Prof Surendra Sirsat, the MGP chief, has served show cause notices to Dr Kashinath Jalmi, former state opposition leader and Rohidas Naik, a freedom fighter, who withdrew from the contest without taking the party leadership into confidence.

Soon after Khalap split from the four-decade old regional outfit and claimed that he had merged the whole MGP into the Congress, the party leadership had bounced back, announcing that it is still alive among the Hindu Bhaujan Samaj, the mass base it represented from the time of liberation in 1961.

But both the candidates, Jalmi and Naik, withdrew from the contest within two days while announcing their support to the BJP candidates in both the constituencies. More than Naik in the South, Jalmi seemed worried that his presence in the North may benefit Khalap due to probable split among the majority Hindu vote bank.

But Sirsat, who condemned his party colleagues for withdrawing without taking the leadership into confidence, summoned a meet to decide not to support any party in particular. While other parties are busy electioneering, the MGP is now occupied sending show cause notices and accusing each other over the withdrawal drama.

Though Khalap claims that Jalmi's withdrawal would ultimately benefit him as the traditional MGP voters would now follow him, he may be proved wrong by the electorate, who has been consistently shifting its allegiance towards the BJP, the viable alternative he claims to have found to the Congress.

Election is the game of numbers, which were washed away, partly due to heavy downpour and partly because the voter decided so. In North Goa, over half a lakh voters decided against the wishes of the candidates, upsetting their whole gameplan.

Fed up of visiting the polling booth every three months, only around 46 per cent voters exercised their franchise, bringing down the polling percentage of '98 Lok Sabha polls almost by 16 per cent in Panaji Parliamentary constituency.

To be precise, 53,257 voters have stayed away this time, since last year. Compared to around 2.44 lakh turnout in '98 polls, only 1.90 lakh Goans thought it wise to vote and elect the MP, not known for how long this time.

It is very difficult to predict the results, which would be announced almost a month later, merely on the basis of how many people have voted. both Ramakant Khalap (Congress) and Shripad Naik (BJP) are thus free to claim their victory till then.

The lowest percentage of 39.58 is recorded in Tiswadi taluka, consisting of five Assembly segments. But in terms of numbers it is the Bardez taluka (45.34 %), where actually over 17,000 voters did not turn up. It consists of maximum number of six Assembly segments, two each held by the Congress, the BJP and the NCP.

The combination of Tiswadi and Bardez itself goes to over 33,000 voters, who did not go to vote. It is much more than combination of three other talukas - Pernem, Bicholim and Sattari, where altogether around 20,000 less voters turned up. The percentage of these three talukas however appears quite impressive - 52.42, 52.61 and 51.29 respectively.

The comparative turnout is lowest in irrigation minister Dayanand Narvekar's Tivim, where around 4000 less people turned up, followed by Francisco D'Souza of the NCP (3447) and BJP MLA Dayanand Mandrekar's Siolim (3284). The neo-Congressman Suresh Parulekar's Calangute faired well, with only around 1500 less people voting there. Dr Wilfred de Souza's Saligao was 2500 less and BJP's Aldona was 2800 less.

The plight of Congress strongholds in Tiswadi is no good. Topping the number is ministerial aspirant Somnath Zuwarkar's Taleigao, where over 4000 less people did not turn up while another aspirant Victoria Fernandes' St Cruz also recorded over 3900 less turnout. Falling in the line is another Congress constituency of St Andre, indicating reduced number of over 3000.

Leader of the opposition Manohar Parrikar's Panaji, though recorded only 40 per cent, appears to have succeeded in pulling out maximum number of voters as it shows little over 1600 less turnout than last year. Power minister Nirmala Sawant's Cumbarjua also shows a reduced figure of only around 2600.
No doubt turnout in Khalap's Pernem taluka, former chief minister Pratapsing Rane's Sattari taluka and Bicholim, which is divided equally between the Congress and the BJP, shows percentage of over 51 per cent each. But the sum total adds up to only 34 per cent of the total electorate who have voted from the North Goa constituency.

It would be thus Tiswadi and Bardez talukas which would decide the winner as around 60 per cent voting comes from 11 Assembly segments here. But it is also the fact that several Congress strongholds here have recorded the lowest turnout, indicating clearly that Khalap has to wait with his heart in his mouth till 6 October. 






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