The lesson from the Goa Assembly election results is that sound and fury are not enough to counter deep political roots. People would rather trust power to those with a record of governance, even when such parties have disappointed in the recent past. The Aam Aadmi Party was the most visible during the campaign, but the relatively new party fared quite miserably. The traditional parties of governance in Goa — the Congress and the BJP, fared relatively well even though people in general had been disappointed with their performances.
The biggest gainers from that general sense of ennui with the established parties were Independents and small parties — particularly candidates who have performed well. So, for example, the outstanding Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte and Vinoda Datarama Paliencar of the Goa Forward Party were both re-elected. That no party got a majority was only to be expected — given the general lack of enthusiasm about either the Congress that was trounced in 2012 over the 'mining scam' and other corruption charges, and the BJP that has failed to inspired people with its governance since then.
That the BJP suffered owing to an anti-incumbency sentiment is obvious from the fact that it won fewer seats than the Congress despite garnering the highest number of votes overall. Clearly, its votes were concentrated in support of candidates who had worked in their constituencies. With a 28.4 percent vote share, the Congress was able to win 17 seats in the 40-member Assembly, while the BJP won only 13 seats with its 32.5 percent vote share.
AAP activists had hoped that, although it was new, their party would be able to fill the gap. Although vigorous, their campaign evidently failed to convince a large number of voters. It got only 6.3 percent of the popular vote across the state — less than a fifth of what the BJP got. The long-established Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which stands for the Konkan-Marathi identity of the state, won three seats with 11.3 percent of the votes.
Unlike the MGP that won a couple of seats by huge margins, the AAP was not even in the main fight in any constituency in the state. Its candidates came in third in only a couple of constituencies. Unlike either the Congress or the BJP, AAP had declared its chief ministerial candidate — Elvis Gomes. But even Gomes came in fourth in his Cuncolim constituency. Just a few days before polling, he had claimed to have visited 95 percent of the houses in his constituency.
The no-nonsense style of Gomes, a former bureaucrat known for his tough anti-corruption stance, could strike some as abrasive. The party fielded professionals such as doctors and architects in many constituencies. People at large were evidently not convinced about their ability to get the little things — like admissions, loans, gutters and electricity connections — that people outside the networks of influence seek from their representatives.
AAP’s poor performance is particularly remarkable since Goa has very small constituencies compared to states like Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. Many of those who won got less than 10,000 votes. So, to convince voters one-on-one, which is AAP’s style, should have been easier than it would have been elsewhere. But, although party enthusiasts had come from as far as Bengaluru and Delhi to put in their efforts, their preferred tactic was to stand on major street corners with banners, brooms (the party’s symbol) and caps, unconvincingly shouting slogans.
In contrast to Goa, where its votes were scattered across various constituencies, AAP was able to win 20 seats in the 117-member Punjab Assembly since its support was concentrated in the relatively urbanised Malwa region. Across Punjab, AAP garnered only 23.7 percent of the popular vote — well behind the Akali-BJP alliance's 30.6 percent, and third even to the Akali Dal’s 25.2 percent.
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Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 13:06:26 IST