Saturday 24 August 2019

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Politics | Lok Sabha 19

Do Goan voters follow the Parties & Leaders?

 

“I am a voter from Mandrem constituency. Today is the election. I enter the polling booth. There are two Electronic Voting Machines in front of me. One for Lok Sabha and another for Mandrem Assembly by-election. On Lok Sabha EVM, I press the button of BJP candidate Shripad Naik. And then I move to the Assembly EVM, either to press the button of Congress candidate Babi Bagkar or independent Jeet Arolkar, not the BJP.”

Similar is the mindset of the voter seen in Mapusa, Panaji or Shiroda, where Assembly by-elections were held simultaneously. In Panaji, Lok Sabha was on 23rd April and Assembly was on 19th May. But rest three were together, on 23rd April.

Goa Lok Sabha result matched with the national phenomenon. Clean sweep for the BJP. In spite of having a strong voter base of anti-BJP minorities in South Goa, Congress MP Francisco Sardinha had to literally struggle. And won by hardly 10,000 votes. Former BJP MP Narendra Sawaikar fared far better than expected. 19,000 votes against Sardinha’s only 20,000 votes.

But does it mean a BJP wave? A Modi wave? Or a Hindutwa wave? Defeat of the so called secular vote bank? Then why BJP was not the choice of the ‘Hindutwawadi voter’ in the Assembly by-polls in Goa?

Let’s scan all the four constituencies to understand it better.



Congress candidate Girish Chodankar polled almost 8371 votes in Mandrem for the Lok Sabha poll. But hardly half of these voters – 4239 to be precise – voted for Babi Bagkar of the Congress. That does not mean these balance 4132 voters voted for the BJP.

In fact BJP MLA Dayanand Sopte polled 13,468 votes and also won the election. But BJP MP Shripad Naik polled more than him for the Lok Sabha. 17,296 votes. Almost 3828 more votes than Sopte. These voters preferred independent candidate Jeet Arolkar, who polled 9343 votes, from both the camps – the Congress and the BJP. If he or she was the BJP voter, Modi Bhakt or Hindutwawadi, then why didn’t he or she voted for Sopte in the Assembly poll? Why Jeet Arolkar, who was the main rival of the BJP? (Sopte won by 4125 votes against Jeet).

Little contradictory to Mandrem was the scenario of Mapusa. The trend was opposite for Congress in Lok Sabha. Sudhir Kandolkar polled more votes in the Assembly by-poll than Girish Chodankar for the Lok Sabha. Almost 753 more. But still lost the battle against BJP’s Joshua D’Souza by 1151 votes. 10,000 against 11,000 votes.

Maximum number of 12,704 votes were polled by BJP MP Shripad Naik in Mapusa. Does that mean Mapusa voter at large is the BJP voter? Modi Bhakt? Hindutwawadi? In that case, why 1537 less votes to Joshua? Because he belongs to the minority? Did the same voter choose Sudhir Kandolkar because he is a Hindu? Or is the Congress a Hindutwawadi party?

Shiroda is yet another live example. Congress candidate Francisco Sardinha polled (8223) four times more than his party candidate for Assembly, Mahadev Naik (2402). A difference of almost 5821 votes. These ‘Congress voters’ preferred MGP candidate Dipak Dhavalikar (10585), who lost by only 76 votes to BJP MLA Subhash Shirodkar.

And though veteran politician like Subhash had to struggle very hard to get 10,661 votes, his colleague Narendra Sawaikar, who was contesting Lok Sabha poll on BJP ticket, comfortably surpassed him in Shiroda. Swaikar polled 14,545 votes, almost 3884 more than Subhash and a lead of 6332 over his Congress rival Sardinha. With a wafer thin margin of 76 votes, Subhash could somehow retain his seat.

In fact Subhash survived the neck-to-neck fight because of postal ballots. Before the postal ballot was taken up for counting, Subhash (10527) had a lead of only 19 votes over Dhavalikar (10508). But Subhash polled 134 votes in postal ballot against 77 polled by Dhavalikar, a difference of 57 more.

Why these ‘hard core BJP voters’ didn’t vote for Subhash, but Dhavalikar when they preferred Sawaikar in Lok Sabha poll? What was the criterion?

Elections in Panaji were held on two different dates. Lok Sabha on 23rd April and by-election on 19th May. A gap of only 25 days. But the results are diametrically opposite. BJP MP Shripad Naik polled majority 8910 votes in Lok Sabha poll while Congress MLA Babush Monserrate polled 8748 votes in the by-election. And Congress candidate Girish Chodankar polled 6990 votes in Lok Sabha while BJP candidate Sidharth Kuncalienkar polled 6626 votes in the by-election. A difference of around 2000 votes in both the camps.

Does that mean both BJP and Congress have a strong vote bank of 6000 to 7000 in Panaji? And the rest 2000 votes are vacillating? Does that also mean the capital city of Goa, which was represented by a RSS-turned-BJP politician Manohar Parrikar for 25 years, is having no edge over the Congress in terms of BJP vote bank, Modi Bhakts or Hindutwawadis?

Or the criterions are different than the convenient arguments of so called secular and Hindutwawadi vote banks, which made Modi victorious once again?

MOST OF THEM VOTED TWICE

There is also hardly any place for an argument that these voters might have not voted in both the places or they might have preferred NOTA (None Of The Above). But these arguments also don’t hold any water.

In case of Mandrem, 304 voters didn’t go to Lok Sabha EVM but chose only Assembly by-poll EVM. And hardly 23 more people preferred NOTA, not to choose any of the candidates for Lok Sabha.

In Mapusa, only three voters did not vote for Assembly by-poll. And 13 voters did not choose anyone in the Assembly by-poll.

In Shiroda, 104 voters turned away from the EVMs of Lok Sabha and 52 voters chose not to vote for any candidate in the Assembly by-election.

Though Panaji elections were held on two different dates, response for voting was equally good for both. 820 voters did not go to vote for Lok Sabha poll on 23rd April. And 67 more voters preferred NOTA, not to choose any candidate for Lok Sabha.

The conclusion derived from these facts and figures could be summarised like this:

  1. Goan voter is not blindly attached to any particular party. He vacillates as per the situation.
  2. Goan voter applies different criterions for Lok Sabha and Assembly.
  3. Goan voter does not vote strictly on the basis of religion or religious ideology like Hindutwa.
  4. Secularism or Hindutwa were not the main criterions in these elections in Goa.
  5. Goan voter does not run behind the political leaders but votes as per his/her conscience.

 

It means the politicians as well as political analysts need to find out the real reasons behind this voting pattern rather than the standard arguments like secular versus communal, Majority versus Minority etc etc.






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