Wednesday 19 September 2018

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Politics | Lok Sabha '98

BJP upsurge shakes up all parties

 

All the major political parties in Goa are presently in a shocked state of mind. The reason, however, is not their poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, but the sudden upsurge of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which literally washed away their base all over.

Both the seats were ultimately won by the locally ruled Congress, but the one who hijacked the local political scenario is the BJP. Eating up into everybody’s vote hank, it scored better by around 17 per cent votes this time.

The major loser was obviously union law minister Ramakant Khalap’s Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, losing around 13 per cent of its votes, while losing both the seats. In fact, in the Mormugao (South Goa) constituency, it came down from 14 per cent to mere three per cent.

Churchill Alemao suffered a setback in South Goa from the BJP as well as the Congress, losing 11 per cent votes this time, while facing a humiliating defeat. His United Goans Democratic Party candidate however scored pretty well in Panaji (North Goa), polling around 18 per cent votes.

Despite winning the seat, the ruling Congress could gain only three per cent in the South, but lost around 10 per cent in the North. It lost in 21 Assembly segments out of 40, either to the BJP, the UGDP or the MGP.

Since it had entered the Goan electoral scene in ’91, the BJP had never crossed the figure of 18 per cent and could never save its deposit. Even its debut in the Assembly was made possible in ’94 polls by aligning with the MGP.

With the BJP suddenly emerging as a powerful force in such a manner, think tanks of all the political parties here are busy introspecting and planning strategies to counter it. The jubilant BJP however has appointed a screening committee for admitting workers from other parties into the saffron fold.

By consolidating the base, their immediate target now is the zilla panchayat elections, followed by the Assembly polls, slated to be held by November ’99.

Rather than its saffron colour depicting hindutva, it appears that the stability plank and Atel Bihari Vajpayee’s clean public image prompted even sizeable number of Catholics and Muslims to vote for the BJP in the Hindu-dominated tourist state.

"The people have voted for stability at the centre. It would be a different scene in the Assembly polls", claims MGP chief Surendra Sirsat. The BJP pushed them to the third place in eight Assembly segments.

The Congress won back its lost seats, but with a slander margin. While losing the North Goa seat by only 417 votes, the saffron party gained 11 per cent votes whereas it gained 20 per cent in the South, even after losing the seat by 7800 votes.

On the contrary, the victorious Congress could gain only in nine Assembly segments. The BJP did not have spare the segments represented by chief minister Pratapsing Rane.

Rather than accepting the fact of state-wide invisible wave in BJP’s favour, Rane however prefers to play the card of communalism to attack the saffron party. "We will succeed before the Assembly polls in overcoming the communal politics infused by the BJP", he claims.

But even the MGP or the UGDP, who were equally affected with the BJP wave, refuse to accept the Congress theory. "People have preferred a national party to the regional party and it is a direct blow on our face", admits Adv Radharao Gracias, the UGDP spokesperson.

Though most of them describe it as an unforeseen performance, a pre-poll survey conducted by the Excellent Relations, a private agency, had clearly revealed a strong trend in BJP’s favour, while also predicting accurate results.

Though the Congress looks at it as a dangerous trend of communalism entering the peaceful state known for practicing secularism, the survey figures indicate that even 15 per cent Catholics and Muslims had decided to vote for the BJP, to seek a stable government under Vajpayee’s leadership.

Its dedicated cadres have already penetrated in all the 40 Assembly segments, while leading in 18 segments and securing second position in seven segments. On the contrary, none of the parties in Goa have such disciplined cadres to consolidate its position in the lost areas.

In fact, Sirsat gives equal credit to the BJP’s unique propaganda methods, like sending around 70,000 letters to each house, phoning 10,000 residences and around 800 women moving from house to house. The parties thus seem worried what if the trend continues in the Assembly polls.






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