If exit poll results come true, Goa is definitely headed to deliver a fractured mandate. Three exit polls conducted are unanimous that the state’s ruling BJP may emerge the single largest party in a hung Assembly.
Taking average of all three exit polls, it appears that BJP’s juggernaut may stop in the coastal state at 18, three short of simple majority, while Congress party’s dream of returning to power may yield it just three more seats compared to 2012 when it had won nine seats. It seems Congress may snatch three seats from BJP that had won 21 seats five years back.
AAP may manage to open its account by winning three seats, though it had identified Goa as a potential state for its expansion beyond Delhi. Tally of Others and Independents will come down from 10 to 7.
Here's a brief list of possible chief ministerial candidates for the state:
In case of an BJP government:
Union defence minister is unarguably the most popular BJP leader in Goa and the majority of Goans would want to see Parrikar back as the next chief minister. So would Parrikar, who had moved to the Centre, rather reluctantly in November 2014.
The 61-year-old IIT Mumbai graduate has deep roots in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since his student years. He was instrumental in BJP’s phenomenal growth in Goa, got elected as a legislator for the first time in 1994, and served as the Leader of Opposition in 1999 before becoming Goa’s 10th chief minister in 2000. He served in the post till 2005 when a spate of defections from the BJP’s ranks reduced his government to minority.
It was Parrikar’s strategic masterstroke when he made no attempt to cobble up post poll alliance after the BJP emerged as the single largest party in hung Goa Assembly in 2007. It paid rich political dividends was BJP won simple majority on its own by winning 21 seats in the 40-member Assembly along with three seats won by its ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) in 2012.
Parrikar as chief minister brought stability to Goa’s infamous murky politics and initiated a slew of development-oriented and people-friendly measures until his services were requisitioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean up the Defence Ministry perennially associated with controversial defence deals.
BJP realised its folly that without Parrikar it stood no chance of retaining power by the time the next election arrived. He was given a free hand to direct the Goa government and run the party, making him the virtual super chief minister. Parrikar spent more time in Goa than in Delhi and the BJP threw broad hints that he would be sent back as Goa chief minister if voted to power again. The strategy seems to have paid off as prospect of Parrikar back as Goa chief minister is believed to have helped get extra votes.
Circumstances will dictate if Parrikar would be back where Goans want him to. He may be asked to form the next government if BJP falls short of the majority since his magnetic personality will attract Independents and some smaller parties to support BJP. However, if BJP gets majority on its own, Parrikar may stay put as the defence minister and asked to nominate the new chief minister, as he was asked to in 2014 when he handpicked Laxmikant Parsekar as his successor.
Uncertainty hovers over incumbent Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar’s future even in the event of BJP forming the new Goa government.
Parrikar had nominated Parsekar as his successor since he allegedly did not want a strong leader to emerge from the BJP ranks as his replacement. Like Parrikar, Parsekar too enjoys unstained reputation which is something so uncommon in Goa’s politics. But the comparison between the two ends there. Parsekar tried to learn and did his best, which was not good enough to make him popular either within the party or in the state, forcing BJP not to project him the chief ministerial face or seek votes on his name.
The lackluster and indecisive Parrikar has left two major decisions for his successor to tackle. He failed to move the Supreme Court with review petition after the apex court in mid-December announced ban on liquor outlets within radius of 500 metre of national and state highways from 1 April. This threatens large-scale closure of liquor outlets, causing unemployment and domino effect being felt now by cashew nut farmers who are unsure about what to do with the massive crop this season, as brewing feni has ceased to be a lucrative option for them now in view of closure of liquor outlets and decline in demand of Goa’s favourite alcoholic drink.
As if Parsekar’s failure to move to the apex court was not enough, comes the news that the Union highways Ministry has agreed to take over Major District Roads (MDR) and convert them into national highways at Parsekar’s request. The proposed 290-km MDR connects major beaches of North Goa, which is so popular with tourists. It will require large-scale demolitions and closure of liquor outlets, paralysing the tourist industry that sustain Goa and Goans.
There is only an outside chance that Parsekar will be able to hold on to his post even if BJP gets a thumping majority since the part rank and file are against him.
Demand for BJP expanding its social base by opting to nominate a Christian community leader as the next Goa chief minister has been growing for some time. It may enable BJP earn the goodwill of the powerful Christian community, especially in South Goa.
Francis D’Souza, the incumbent deputy chief minister is the first choice in that scenario. D’Souza, 62, entered Goa Assembly in 1999 and remains undefeated since then. He was appointed deputy chief minister when Parrikar formed the government in 2012. He was seen as a strong contender to replace Parrikar as chief minister in 2014 and made his displeasure public when his claim was overlooked in favour of Parsekar, while asking him to continue as deputy chief minister.
D’Souza utilised the long break between polling and result to get his ailing heart operated in a Mumbai hospital and is said to be ready to throw his hat in the ring again.
In case BJP overlooks D’Souza again but wants pick a Christian leader as the new chief minister, then its possible choice would be popular Calangute legislator Michael Lobo whose rags to riches story inspires the Goa’s youth.
Lobo washed dishes in a Panjim (now Panaji) bar to support his education and ended up becoming its manager. Today he owns nearly a dozen resorts and restro-bars in North Goa. He has earned reputation of a visionary hardworking legislator. Whether BJP opts for the 40-year-old Lobo will be interesting to look for.
If Parrikar is asked to stay put in Delhi and BJP overlooks Parsekar, D’Souza and Lobo, party’s Goa unit chief Vinay Tendulkar could come into contention.
Whosoever becomes the next chief minister from BJP, one thing is sure that he would have to be Parrikar’s yes-man since he may be asked to name one by the party’s Parliamentary Board.
In case the Congress comes to power:
Luizinho Faleiro may be the first though not the most popular choice in case the Congress party returns to power.
Faleiro had served as Goa chief minister for 168 days in 1999 and is seen as being close to party chief Sonia Gandhi. He was serving as the national general secretary of the party when was asked by Sonia to shift to Goa as the state unit president in 2014 to rebuild the ailing party.
Faleiro has done his best but whether his best is good enough to steer Congress party to power remains to be seen.
The outspoken 65-year-old Faleiro was seen lambasting his party leaders in public, faced hurdles in implementing his youth-first plan and failed to end factionalism within the state unit of the party. At the end, he was heading just another faction instead of the party and was seen dejected and disappointed as his baiters had established direct contact with Digvijaya Singh, the national general secretary in-charge for Goa.
Faleiro’s baiters would try to put stumbling blocks in his path of becoming the chief minister in case the Congress party manages to form the new Goa government. His only hope is Sonia Gandhi whose dictate continues to rule the roost in the party.
Digambar Kamat, 62, is famous for political manipulations and is the last chief minister from the Congress ranks. It was his manipulations that enabled him to survive as chief minister for five years between 2007 and 2012. Kamat managed to form the government despite the Congress party winning one seat less than the rival BJP in 2007 elections. His government was reduced to a minority in the very first year after resignations and alliance break ups. But Kamat survived to complete his full five year tenure but at the cost of making the party unpopular with BJP winning majority and the Congress party getting reduced to the single figure after winning just nine seats in 2012 Assembly polls.
Kamat is the typical face of Goa’s politics that degenerated and rotted for long. He started his political career with the Congress party, quit it to join BJP when he was denied nomination in 1994 elections. He was serving as a minister in BJP-led Parrikar government when his chief ministerial ambitions got better of him. He quit the government and party, returned to the Congress party while toppling Parrikar government. He finally fulfilled his chief ministerial ambitions when BJP opted to sit in the Opposition despite being the largest party in 2007.
Kamat can be rightfully blamed for the decline of the Congress party in Goa and rise of BJP. But his chances cannot be ruled out as despite all, he probably is the most popular Congress leader from Goa right now.
The septuagenarian Pratapsingh Rane was at one time the most popular leader of Goa and has the unique distinction of being the last chief minister of the Union Territory Goa, Daman and Diu and the first chief minister when Goa became a full-fledged state while he was the chief minister between 1980 and 1990. He is also credited for ending the 16 years of uninterrupted rule of Goa, Daman and Diu of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).
Rane is credited for many developments that Goa witnessed in the 1980s. He has served as Goa chief minister six times, the last being for little over two years between 2005 and 2007.
Although he has been grooming his legislator son Vishwajit Rane as his successor in Goa politics, Rane senior may still have claim to become the next chief minister since he served as Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly.
Elvis Gomes from the Aam Aadmi Party
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nominated ex-bureaucrat Elvis Gomes as its chief ministerial candidate. Though there is absolutely no ambiguity over who its chief minister would be, it remains to be seen if AAP manages to do Delhi trick and sweeps Goa election.
Gomes draws inspiration and parallel with AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who too had quit government job to ultimately join politics. Gomes opted for retirement when he was about to be promoted as an IAS officer last year. He enjoys popularity as he was seen as an honest, upright and hardworking bureaucrat. Ironically, his name cropped up in a land scam case in which he denies any role.
That Gomes would be effective as Goa chief minister is beyond doubt, but the big question remains if he and Kejriwal together could do enough to sweep Goa polls and form the next government.
Ramkrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar (MGP)
The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) went to polls by projecting former PWD minister Ramkrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar, elder of the two Dhavalikar brothers now dominating once powerful MGP.
Sudin has long nurtured chief ministerial ambitions and the MGP’s decision to snap ties with BJP was driven by this ambition. MGP formed alliance with the BJP’s breakaway faction Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and Shiv Sena. The Right-wing alliance named Sudin Dhavalikar as its chief ministerial face.
MGP, founded by Dayanand Bandodkar, was a formidable political force in Goa. Bandodkar became the first chief minister of Goa Daman and Diu after first election were held in 1963 following its liberation from Portuguese rule in 1961.
MGP ruled Goa through Bandodkar and his daughter Shashikala Kakodkar till 1980, interrupted twice by President’s Rule, when it was finally voted out of power. The party has since declined and has become pocket borough of Dhavalikar brothers particularly after BJP emerged as the first choice party of Goa’s Hindus.
Sudin Dhavalikar’s only chance of becoming chief minister hangs on hope that his party wins more than 10 seats and Goa gives a badly fractured mandate.
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Updated Date: Mar 11, 2017 10:51 AM