Goa goes to polls on 4 February. The 40-seat Assembly will see interesting electoral contests this year with a four-pronged battle between the Congress, ruling BJP, the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party-led (MGP) front.
Here are the key personalities who matter the most in the forthcoming election:
Laxmikant Parsekar: The three-term MLA from Mandrem will be leading the ruling BJP's charge. The chief minister has various challenges to face. Ally MGP broke ties with the party in December 2016 after Parsekar sacked the Dhavlikar brothers from his Cabinet over repeated criticism of his government. Senior RSS leader Subhash Velingkar fueled a rebellion last year over the BJP government refusal to stop funding private English medium educational institutions, in favour of Konkani or Marathi language institutions. Parsekar also has to deal with the discontent within the party over ticket distribution. The biggest issue perhaps which might bother Parsekar is the perception that Manohar Parrikar, his predecessor and the country's defence minister, runs the state from the South Block in New Delhi. This election will be a test for Parsekar to come out of Parrikar's shadow and become a leader in his own right.
Subhash Velingkar: The Goa state RSS chief until August 2016, Velingkar was sacked over his opposition to BJP's stance over regional language issue. The issue has divided the state, with a section supporting English as a medium of instruction in schools while the Velingkar-backed Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) and many others want the government to help Marathi and Konkani language schools with public funds. However, the BJP government has continued with its funding for English language schools. Velingkar also charged Manohar Parrikar of cheating the electorate. After splitting from the RSS, he formed the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) to fight his former party. The GSM has tied up with the MGP, Shiv Sena and Goa Praja Party to form a mahayuti (grand alliance) to defeat the BJP. With the Shiv Sena calling him the "Lord Krishna" of the alliance, he is being seen as the central figure of the non-BJP, non-Congress alliance.
Elvis Gomes: The former civil servant-turned-politician joined the AAP after taking voluntary retirement in July 2016. The 53-year-old Gomes was named the party's chief minsiterial candidate by supremo Arvind Kejriwal and is set to fight from South Goa's Cuncolim seat. However, the party's fortune seems to be highly proportionate to the Delhi chief minister's visits to the tourist state. According to reports, Gomes' campaign has been lacking in spark, therefore putting the burden solely on Kejriwal. While Gomes and his campaign has focused on the misgovernance of the BJP government, the ex-bureaucrat himself is embroiled in an alleged corruption case relating to a land deal, when he was the director of the department of tourism. According to Ajay Jha, Gomes has to fight against odds like lack of funds and workers, ignite dreams of corruption-free administration and deliver Goa on a platter to Kejriwal and ensuring his own victory.
Luizinho Faleiro: While the BJP has Manohar Parrikar, the Congress has his match in state unit president and two time chief minister Luizinho Faleiro. In the last few weeks, Falerio, through clever selection of candidates and out-maneuvering aggressive alliance-seeking parties, has helped gain lost ground for the party, which was in tatters since its battering in 2012. Reduced to an unprecedented nine MLAs and with BJP poaching two of its "winnable", but tainted, MLAs — Mauvin Godinho and Pandurang Madkaikar — the late revival engineered by the former Congress working committee member could see the outfit gain a few more seats. The party's gumption and confidence can be gauged by its rejection of a formal alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party and Goa Forward, and its decision to allot a big chunk of seats to fresh candidates. "We may have made mistakes in the past, but we've apologised for it. We are here now to win people's hearts, not just the elections," Faleiro maintained.
Digambar Kamat: Chief minister between 2007 and 2012, Digambar Kamat is currently facing several cases of corruption, including the Luois Berger bribery scandal where he is under the scanner of taking bribes from the US-based consultancy. The Shah Commission on illegal sand mafia had also indicted Kamat for his role in letting the large-scale illegal mining mafia operate in the state. The heavyweight politician filed his nomination to contest from the Margao constituency. While Falerio is said to be close to Sonia Gandhi, Kamat, on the other hand, is considered to be enjoying the confidence of the Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, Vishwajit Rane. Reports suggested that the idea to go for a grand alliance with like-minded parties was mooted by Kamat. But with factionalism in the party and the scam-taint behind him, the post-poll scenario for Kamat looks uncertain.
Updated Date: Feb 04, 2017 12:33 PM