Sunday 15 December 2019

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Politics | Lok Sabha 19

Congress won South Goa, but BJP gained!

 

Even BJP camp had surrendered to the fact that Franciso Sardinha of Congress would win South Goa MP election of 2019. But hardly anybody expected that the margin would be hardly 10,000 votes.

Even BJP camp had surrendered to the fact that Franciso Sardinha of Congress would win South Goa MP election of 2019. But hardly anybody expected that the margin would be hardly 10,000 votes.

Incidentally, it is as low as it had been in 1998 election, when Sardinha became the Congress MP for the first time, defeating Ramakant Angle of the BJP. His margin was hardly 7850 votes. In terms of percentage, Sardinha had polled 34% votes while Angle 32%. Difference of hardly 2%.

After that, for the first time in Goa’s electoral history, this Congress bastion was conquered by the BJP within one year, in 1999 Lok Sabha election. At that time, Angle had defeated Churchill Alemao of Congress with a margin of 14,457 votes. 49% votes for the BJP and 42% for the Congress. That was a result of a strong anti-Congress wave even in Christian-dominated Salcete, where even the Church had reportedly worked against the Congress ‘to teach them a lesson.’

HISTORY OF SOUTH GOA

Otherwise, South Goa seat has never gone to either MGP or the BJP, except in the first ever election of liberated Goa, in 1963. Mukund Shinkre of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) had won this election by 3000 votes against A D Loyola Furtado of the UGP.

But the Christian vote bank dominated this Lok Sabha constituency since 1967, though MGP was in power in Goa till 1977. Erasmo Sequeira of the United Goans Party (UGP) was elected twice, defeating the ruling MGP, in 1967 and 1971.

And then Eduardo Faleiro of Congress entered the Lok Sabha from South Goa in 1977, during the post-emergency historic election of India, when the whole country had voted against the Congress. Since then, Faleiro remained the Prince Charming of South Goa till 1996.

In 1996, Churchill Alemao of United Goans Democratic Party defeated Faleiro by over 25,000 votes. To be precise, 41% votes for Churchill and only 31% for Faleiro. A huge setback for the Congress after 19 long years of uninterrupated rule and five terms of Faleiro.

Then came Sardinha for the first time in 1998 when BJP had equally become a force in Goa with four ‘saffron’ legislators making a debut in Goa Assembly in 1994. But Ramakant Angle, who lost to Sardinha in 1998, could win the seat only once, in 1999, with a margin of 14,457 against Churchill Alemao, once again as the UGDP candidate.

But Churchill joined the Congress and defeated Angle in 2004 election, with a huge margin of over 50,000 votes. Churchill crossed the half mark and polled 55% while Angle could garner only 38% votes. Crossing 50% was otherwise the tradition only Eduardo Faleiro had: 1980: 57%, 1984: 50% & 1991: 57%.

63-year old Sardinha came back once again and battled with a young lawyer-turned- politician, 43-year old Narendra Sawaikar of the BJP in 2009, to win the election by 12,516 votes.

But the nationwide 2014 Narendra Modi wave and anger against corrupt Congress hit even the South Goa Lok Sabha constituency. Narendra Sawaikar swept the election, defeating then sitting Curtorim MLA Alex Reginaldo Lourenco, by an equally huge margin of almost 32,000 votes.

Reginald at that time could poll hardly 41% votes against 48% by Sawaikar.

But the numbers favoured Sardinha in 2019, who defeated sitting BJP MP Sawaikar, but by only 10,064 votes.

DROPPING MGP COST BJP

But that does not mean tables turned against the BJP in South Goa. It fared much better than expected. Sitting MP Narendra Sawaikar polled 1.91 lakh votes against Sardinha, whole polled 2.01 lakh. In terms of percentage, 48% votes for Sardinha and 45% for Sawaikar. A difference of hardly 3%.

Sardinha polled 21% more votes (2,01,269) than his party colleague Alex Reginald Lourenco polled (1,66,226) in 2014. But this did not hamper Sawaikar in a big way. He polled only 4 per cent less votes (1,91,205) than his record voting of 1,98,176 votes in 2014.

What cost the BJP was dropping MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar from the cabinet headed by Dr Pramod Sawant while winning over two MGP colleagues by engineering split in the MGP with two third of its strength. The MGP this time openly supported the Congress.

In 2014, the biggest lead for Sawaikar was in Marcaim. With Sudin’s blessings, he polled 14,056 votes against hardly 2913 for the Congress. A huge lead of 11,143 votes. Even this time Sawaikar is leading in Marcaim, but hardly by 1233 votes. Lost almost 9910. And Sardinha won the election by 10,064 votes!

But also a fact that Sudin could not reverse the trend entirely in Marcaim. BJP polled 67% votes in 2014 in Marcaim against only 14% for the Congress. But now in 2019, Sudin could get only 45% for Sardinha, only 31% more. And on the other hand, Sawaikar’s lead came down from 67% to 51%. A difference of only 16%. It means BJP is rooting in Marcaim!

WHERE DID MGP VOTES GO IN SHIRODA?

The changing trend becomes more evident in Shiroda, where MGP President Deepak Dhavalikar was crossing swords with BJP candidate Subhash Shirodkar in a by-election held simultaneously with Lok Sabha poll. But MGP did not contest the Lok Sabha poll. It supported the Congress.

The voter entered the booths of Shiroda, but not all voted for the same party in Lok Sabha and Assembly. In fact almost 104 voters did not go to the Lok Sabha EVM. And 52 more preferred to press NOTA button on Lok Sabha EVM. Though MGP had supported Sardinha of Congress in Lok Sabha, all the voters of Dhavalikar did not obey him. Only 5821 voters out of his 10,585 voted for Congress. Means around 55%. And 37% among them, which is 3884 voters, preferred BJP.

It was an open secret that Dhavalikar had an understanding with Mahadev Naik of Congress in the Assembly by-poll. Due to this, the two-time former BJP MLA Mahadev polled hardly 2402 votes (9.78%). But Sardinha garnered 34% in Lok Sabha. And Sawaikar gained almost 60% votes. This is almost 9% more votes for the BJP than 2014, in spite of the fact that BJP was having a direct fight with the MGP and Dhavalikars had supported the Congress in Lok Sabha.

If Shiroda is taken as a case study where there were Lok Sabha and Assembly polls as well as all the major three players – BJP, Congress and MGP, does it mean that BJP has started consolidating by overpowering the MGP in its so called bastions?

BJP PERFORMS WELL IN SAXTTI BELT

This chart is a normal picture of Lok Sabha performance of BJP and Congress in South Goa. The BJP is leading not only in the Assembly segments of BJP MLAs but also in Congress-led Assembly segments. Shiroda, Mormugao, Vasco, Dabolim, Curchorem and Sanvordem are led by BJP MLAs. But Sawaikar also performed well in Ravi Naik’s Ponda, Sudin Dhavalikar’s Marcaim, Prasad Gaonkar’s Sanguem and Isidore Fernandes’ Canacona – all non-BJP MLAs. And besides its own Assembly segments, Congress has also led in BJP MLA Alina Saldanha’s Cortalim and Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardesai’s Fatorda.

But something more could be read between the lines if this result is analysed further. The trend was not completely reverse in 2019. No doubt Sawaikar has lost many Assembly segments he was leading in 2014. But the BJP has not lost it entirely. In fact Sawaikar managed to improve BJP’s position even in Christian-dominated Salcete. Comparatively, the BJP is losing ground in the hinterland, which is considered to be its stronghold.

The following table is prepared after calculating percentage of votes gained by both the parties in 2014 and 2019. It cannot be done with the number of votes because the voters have increased in 2019 and total 14,199 more voters have voted this time. What is shown below is the difference between the percentage of votes gained by both the parties. And mind you, 1 per cent means approximately 2000 votes.

In terms of taluka evaluation, the BJP is down in Sanguem, Quepem, Salcete and Ponda talukas. But not in Canacona and Mormugao. And even in the taluka where it has declined, it is not proportionate to the rise of Congress. In fact it is less.

For example, Congress is 11% up in Sanguem, but BJP is only 8% down. It has retained 3%, which is around 6000 votes. Even in Salcete, BJP is down by 5 per cent while Congress is up by 8%. It’s not a straight reversal. Retention of around 6000 votes once again for BJP.

And in the Congress bastions of Canacona and Mormugao, the BJP has gained around 2000 votes against 4000 gained by the Congress. And overall, though Congress has gained 7%, the BJP has lost only 3%. Retention of almost 4%. To be precise in terms of number of votes, Congress has gained 35,043 more votes. But BJP has not lost. It has gained 14,199 votes.

The break-up of talukas speaks more than this. The loss for the BJP in Ponda taluka is only in Marcaim of Sudin Dhavalikar. Almost 16%. But in Shiroda, Congress is less 4% (Sardinha) while BJP is 8% more (Sawaikar) than 2014. And in Ravi Naik’s Ponda Assembly segment, Congress is up by 4% and BJP is also up by 2%. Incidentally, both Ravi and Sawaikar are from Ponda.

In Mormugao taluka of 4 Assembly segments, all are BJP MLAs. But the ruling party has this time lost by 1% in BJP minister Milind Naik’s Mormugao Assembly segment. And in Alina Saldanha’s Cortalim Assembly segment, it is on decline.

In Salcete, the major setback for the BJP is only in Congress MLA Wilfred D’Sa’s Nuvem (-13%) and NCP MLA Churchill Alemao’s Benaulim (-10%). The significant loss is also 6% each in Margao and Cuncolim, represented by Congress MLAs Digambar Kamat and Clefacio Dias respectively. But in other Assembly segments, the loss is not that huge. In fact, in Congressman Luizinho Faleiro’s Navelim, the BJP has not lost at all compared to 2014 election. And it’s hardly 1% less in another Congressman Alex Reginaldo Lourenco’s Cortalim, 2% less in BJP ally Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardesai’s Fatorda and 4% less in Congress MLA Philip Neri’s Velim. This is certainly not a healthy sign for the Congress.

But bad news comes for the BJP from other talukas, considered to be positive for the ruling party – Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona.

Though Congress has gained in opposition leader Babu Kavalekar’s Quepem this time by 8% (BJP had gained here in 2014 by 8%), the BJP is less only by 4%. Not proportionate. And a big big setback for ‘Power’ Minister Nilesh Cabral in Curchorem. It is is 7% less compared to 6% gain for the Congress.

Similar is the case of PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar’s Sanvordem constituency. Congress is up by 9% and BJP is down by 7%. And whom independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar has worked for, while supporting the BJP-led government? Because the Congress is up by 12% here while the BJP is down by 9%.

And in Congress MLA Isidore Fernandes’ Canacona, though Congress has gained by 2%, BJP has also gained by 1%.

The overall gain for the Congress in South Goa is only 7%, against hardly 3% loss for the BJP.

In short, the Congress might have won the South Goa seat for Lok Sabha once again, but all is not well to continue its tradition. The BJP is losing ground in its favourable talukas like Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona, but has been able to hold on in the talukas like Ponda, Mormugao and even in Salcete.

A matter of concern for both – the BJP as well as the Congress!






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