Smaller states like Goa witness different brand of political permutations and combinations. After 81 percent out of the state’s eligible and registered 11.09 lakh voters opted to exercise their right to franchise on 4 February, Goa continues to witness a slugfest over postal ballots. The number may be just 17,590, but constitute the key to make or unmake the next government.
The exit poll results may not have any clue which way the government servants, who were on election duty on 4 February, may vote. They have the option to cast their votes till 8 am of 11 March when the counting of votes is set to start. Nervousness of opposition parties, which took their plea to scrap postal ballots to the Election Commission and the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s cool behaviour are being seen as sure indicators that the bureaucrats, police personnel and government school teachers may not be unhappy with the BJP’s five-year rule under two chief ministers, namely Manohar Parrikar and Laxmikant Parsekar. Some 11,220 of them had submitted their votes with the respective Returning Officers by 7 March.
Being India’s tiniest state, the average votes cast on 4 February comes to 24,627 votes cast in each of Goa’s 40 constituencies. If the past is any indicator, victory margins in many constituencies could yet again be very narrow in which roughly 440 postal ballots on an average in each constituency may make or mar the chances of political parties and chief minister aspirants.
With two days still to go for results to be declared, all chief ministerial aspirants are bound to feel the goosebumps. And Goa has over a dozen chief ministerial aspirants, including some independents who are ready with their dreams and sustained dreams if Goa throws up yet another hung Assembly. Goa has a history of electing hung Assemblies and all political parties, while anxiously waiting for the results and praying for at least a simple majority, are ready for yet another fractured mandate in which those possessing political acumen and manipulative skills walk away with chief ministership, sometimes for as less as six days.
Ravi Naik of the Congress party was in the chair for merely six days in 1994 when Congress with 18 seats in the 40-member Assembly had emerged as the single largest party. Churchill Alemao of the Progressive Democratic Front ruled the state for 18 days in 1990 following the Congress party winning just 20 out of 40 seats at stake in 1989 polls.
The state has witnessed formation of 22 governments since its liberation from the Portuguese rule in 1961, with five spells of President’s Rule, totalling 639 days of central rules, reflecting how politically fragile Goa has been over the years.
Rebellions, splits and horse-trading of legislators, leading to rampant corruption at every level in the society, has been as much part and parcel of Goa as its sun-soaked pristine beaches.
With the focus on whether any political party will get slender majority when results are declared on Saturday, talks about who would grace the desired chief minister’s chair is also being discussed since the voting day. Whether federal Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will return as the new Goa chief minister or his lacklustre successor Laxmikant Parsekar would remain in the chair, in case of BJP retaining power, are being debated. BJP also has to consider if nominating a Christian chief minister may prove to be politically beneficial for it in the longer run.
BJP’s arch rival and the state’s principle opposition Congress party probably has more chief ministerial aspirants compared to other parties. Will the party’s state unit president Luizinho Faleiro get a second chance to be the next chief minister in the event of the party emerging favourite of Goans? Faleiro had a brief spell lasting 168 days way back in 1999 as the Goa chief minister. Or whether the septuagenarian Pratapsingh Rane will become Goa chief minister for the seventh time in his chequered and long political career, is the question in the minds of Goans. They have to contend with Digambar Kamat, the last Congress party chief minister, who successfully ran the government for five years with his political acumen despite the party winning just 16 seats, compared to BJP’s 14, in 2007 Assembly election.
This explains why the faction-ridden Congress party faced so much difficulty in finalising its nominees for Goa polls as all these political stalwarts locked horns over getting their favourites party tickets with an eye on post-poll scenario, which may have marred the party’s prospects.
Only two aspirants are assured that in the unlikely event of their respective parties emerging victorious – Elvin Gomes of the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Ramkrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) – will face no challenges. Unlike the BJP and the Congress party which did not project its chief ministerial candidates, both AAP and MGP went to polls after naming their chief ministerial face.
Add to this at least half a dozen independents and leaders of smaller parties who are fancying their chances while praying for the election of another hung Assembly.
Whose Holi will be more boisterous and colourful on 13 March may ultimately provide a clue as all aspirants would have weighed pros and cons of their prospects by then.
Updated Date: Mar 10, 2017 07:28 AM