Panaji: It was touted as a party that could hurt the BJP in Goa. In the end, the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) of former RSS leader Subhash Velingkar won only 1.2 percent of the vote share. Velingkar, however, believes, that the eventual objective of the Manch was not to win seats but to expose the BJP and its "betrayals" as well as teach the saffron party a lesson.
The party, which was expected to significantly damage the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 4 February battle, eventually got a mere 10,745 votes -- while 10,919 Goans opted for NOTA (None Of The Above).
The Manch, which contested five seats, entered an alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Shiv Sena, which numerically failed to cut ice with the electorate.
While the Manch did not win any seat, its best performance was in the Sanquelim seat where its candidate Suresh Amonkar came third and BJP's Pramod Sawant came up trumps.
The MGP won three seats. The Shiv Sena could not open its account.
"Voters have punished BJP for taking people lightly. We were successful in teaching a lesson to the BJP," said Velingkar, who has been critical of the BJP and in particular Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for backing the use of English language as a medium of instruction in primary schools, over regional languages.
Asked for the cause of the Manch's poor showing, Velingkar hinted at tampering of EVM machines.
"I suspect there is manipulation of EVMs. It is impossible for our candidates, especially in Panaji, to get less than 2,000 votes," he said.
GSM's Ketan Bhatikar came a poor fourth with just 323 votes in the Panaji constituency where BJP's Sidharth Kunkolienkar emerged victorious.
The BJP, however, believes that one reason why the Manch fared poorly could be the rebellion by Velingkar and the members of the Goa RSS.
Asked if Velingkar's campaign affected the BJP, the outgoing tourism minister, who lost in Saligao, partially blamed the RSS factor.
A senior BJP leader told IANS that while Velingkar's party did not matter electorally, the vicious campaign led by the former state RSS chief did affect the confidence levels of the BJP cadre.
"More than poll numbers, Velingkar may have damaged us with his bitter campaign against Manohar Bhai and Parsekar Sir. It was as if one of our own was exposing our leaders. Even the Opposition campaign was not that effective," the BJP leader said.
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Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 14:43:44 IST