Panaji: Besides political biggies BJP and Congress, a clutch of regional parties are also testing electoral waters in Goa and hoping for a post-poll role with one of them even announcing its Chief Ministerial candidate.
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), contesting on 18 of the 40 Assembly seats, is the most prominent and formidable regional outfit in the coastal state.
After partying ways with BJP, MGP has cobbled an alliance with fellow regional outfit Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and Maharashtra-headquartered Shiv Sena.
Former Minister Sudin Dhavalikar of MGP, the oldest regional outfit in Goa, has been projected as the Chief Ministerial face of this alliance, which is seeking to make its presence felt in the 4 February Assembly polls.
Dhavalikar, contesting from Madkai, said his party represents the regional aspirations in Goa politics.
"MGP represents the regional parties and forces. For 18 years after Goa's liberation (in 1961), MGP was in power. Even when it was out of power, MGP continued to have representation in the Goa Assembly," Dhavalikar told PTI.
In the past, MGP has allied with both Congress and BJP — which are ideologically different — thus displaying realpolitik and deft manoeuvring in its bid to come to power.
Between 2007-2012, the party was part of the Congress-led ruling alliance. It then switched sides and joined the BJP-headed Government in 2012, but the two parties had a bitter fallout a few months ago and they are now facing each other in the election ring.
GSM, launched by rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar last year, is the newest regional outfit in the State and it is being keenly watched by political observers. Velingkar, a regional language crusader, has publicly announced his party's aim is to oust BJP from power.
GSM is the political arm of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), an organisation which has been agitating for making only regional languages as medium of instruction in State’s elementary education.
The Velingkar-led party has fielded six candidates, while Shiv Sena is contesting on four seats.
Among the newly-formed regional outfit, Goa Forward is a prominent name, but it does not have a pan-Goa presence. Mentored by South Goa-based politician Vijai Sardesai, it unsuccessfully tried for a tie-up with Congress and is now contesting on four seats.
The party swears by Goan ethos and Goanness, and has `coconut' as its symbol. Sardesai himself is contesting from Fatorda, where he is pitted against Congress' Joseph Silva and Damodar Naik of BJP.
Atanasio Monserratte-led United Goan Party (UGP) has restricted its presence in and around Panaji. The party has fielded two candidates – Monserratte (Panaji) and Ramakant Borkar (Cortalim). Monserratte, being supported by Congress, is taking on BJP's sitting MLA Siddharth Cuncolienkar.
South Goa-based Goa Vikas Party (GVP) had extended outside support to the BJP-led Government since 2012, but is now contesting on its own in five constituencies - Benaulim, Velim, Navelim, Cortalim and Pernem.
Another regional party Goa Suraj party (GSP) is contesting on eight seats. Sitting Nuvem MLA and former Minister Fransisco Miccky Pacheco has left Goa Vikas Party to join GSP and is seeking another term from the same constituency.
Congress and BJP, the two major forces in the tourist State, have been heading the ruling coalitions in Goa for a long time with regional outfits as junior allies.
Updated Date: Jan 28, 2017 16:35 PM