Wednesday 11 December 2019

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Politics | Assembly '99

Hung Assembly inevitable

 

It is a forgone conclusion now that Goa would once again throw up a hung Assembly with Congress emerging as a single largest party in the 40-member House, though none of the parties appear to be in a position to gain simple majority.

On the contrary, Congress is likely to lose its base due to its misrule in last 19 years, the rebellion within and a major faction led by Dr Wilfred de Souza contesting separately as the Goa Rajiv Congress.

The BJP, which made debut with four legislators only in the eighth Assembly last time, however has emerged as a major opposition, with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which had ruled the state initially for 17 years, finding itself on a slippery ground.

After winning the Loutolim seat unopposed by former MLA Alex Sequeira, it also seems evident that the Congress would be once again upto its tricks to engineer defections in the regional outfits to form its party government. The coalition rule otherwise is inevitable.

Since 1989, the first poll held for increased number of 40 seats after Goa gained statehood, the tiny tourist state has been an open field for defections as a result of fractured mandate. In fact, subsequent polls in ’94 brought down Congress strength from 20 to 18 while also allotting the non-Congress seats to the MGP, the BJP, the United Goans Democratic Party and independents.

It is now likely to reduce further for the Congress, between 14 to 16 seats, while the BJP appears to be emerging a major opposition with an expectation to win seats between seven to 11. Even if they do not succeed much, all the parties admit that the BJP is the force to reckon with, unlike in the past.

Inspite of losing mass base among the Hindu ‘bahujan samaj’, the MGP may still retain eight to 10 seats, though it is definitely less than 12 seats they won last time. After the MGP-BJP alliance talks failed last minute, the MGP however has allotted at least three of its seats to the Congress rebels, who had defected from the MGP long ago and then changed several parties.

With powerful Congress rebels being awarded tickets by the regional outfits, at the most two independents may come up through, while the GRC as well as the UGDP would gain at least two to five and three to four seats respectively. Except UGDP’s Radharao Gracias, known for his anti-Congress stance, rest of them would be obviously tipped to stage a "homecoming" in the Congress, subject to necessity.

Till now, only 15 seats excluding Loutolim appear to be sure seats, including five each for the Congress and the MGP, three for the BJP and one each for UGDP and the GRC. Veterans among them are four chief ministers - Pratapsing Rane and Luizinho Faleiro of the Congress, GRC’s Dr Wilfred de Souza and MGP’s Shashikala Kakodkar.

Also set to stage a comeback are three former MPs - former union law minister Ramakant Khalap of the MGP and Ravi Naik and Francisco Sardinha of the Congress, who had shifted to national politics after getting defeated in ’94 Assembly polls.

Naik among them has to fight hard to win while victory of the rest two is almost certain. Churchill Alemao, another former chief minister as well as MP, who was also defeated along with Khalap in ’98 Lok Sabha polls, may not succeed in retaining his Benaulim stronghold this time. He is facing a tough time from his old UGDP confidant Radharao Gracias, the former MLA.

Though BJP’s three sitting MLAs are set to enter the House for the second term, Shripad Naik, who has been projected as their chief ministerial candidate, is presently struggling hard to retain his seat in Marcaim, which he had won against Ravi Naik. The latter’s business partner Sudin Dhawalikar, contesting on the MGP ticket, has posed a serious challenge before him.

Speaker Tomazinho Cardoz and at least 13 former ministers, most of whom either belonging to the Congress or defected to become ministers in Dr De Souza’s coalition government, are also fighting a tough battle to retain their seats. Also includes among them is MGP chief Prof Surendra Sirsat.

Yet another former speaker Shaikh Hassan and five more candidates who had held ministerial positions in earlier governments have however resurged on the political scene, including former MP and Goa’s cashew king Harish Zantye. He is fighting Pandurang Raut, the MGP candidate, who had joined the Congress after he lost ’98 Lok Sabha polls on BJP ticket.

On the other hand, there are as many as 23 new faces trying to enter active politics, but are still walking on a thin ice, except Dr Suresh Amonkar, the state BJP president. Prominent among the rest is Nirmala Sawant, former Goa PCC chief, who had refused the party ticket last time to take up organisational responsibilities.

Congress appears to be losing on the count of allotting tickets to controversial and tainted leaders, proving that party chief Sonia Gandhi’s two rallies made hardly any impact. The MGP is also trying to survive on the grounds of clout of a few individuals, including Congress rebels, with its mass base getting totally eroded.

The only party which would surge ahead to fight the coming general elections is undoubtedly the BJP, not because Goans identify with its Hindutwa ideology but simply because the non-Congress regional outfits have miserably failed to pose themselves as a viable alternative the voter is desperately searching for.






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Politics

 
 
 

Assembly '99

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