With one day to go for the polls, elections in Goa remain as much a mystery to the poll watchers as it is to the voters. With many strong independent candidates and local parties like Goa forward and MGP in the fray, the elections in most seats are going to be four cornered race, thus making any prediction all the more difficult.
Still after spending a week in Goa, what has struck me is how despite being a new entrant, AAP has seen a strong surge to emerge as an important claimant to power in this tourist heaven. Within a very short span of a year, AAP has won many hearts in Goa and has got the tongues wagging about it even having a shot at power here.
Congress remains a faceless entity
Traditionally Congress along with the MGP (former partner of the ruling BJP) have been the two poles around which Goa’s politics has revolved. Before the present BJP government stormed to power, Congress was ruling in Goa. With a rather dull performance by the present government, India’s oldest party had a perfect opportunity to displace the BJP. But, like in most other states, Congress did the best to not grab an opportunity that came its way.
It could not get rid of the taint of its earlier misrule and thus was not believed by the voters whenever it tried to highlight’s BJP’s misrule. It has also been quite dormant for most of the past five years, letting BJP go scot free on most of its follies.
The campaign of congress too has been handicapped by its inability to have a well-liked CM face with whom voters could connect. Congress has been banking on its belief that it has the natural right to rule until AAP entered Goa and rocked its boat.
No wonder Congress is busy lamenting that AAP will divide opposition votes and help the BJP. But perhaps it should wonder what helped the BJP more- its incompetence and laidback approach that let BJP go unchallenged until AAP started taking it head on or AAP’s relentless war on BJP that has made it a choice for those looking for fresh alternatives?
Velingkar is making it difficult for BJP to run with the hare and hunt with the hound
Apart from the usual anti incumbency problems and accusations of going back on its promises, BJP in Goa is also worried about the former head of Goa RSS, Subhash Velingkar fighting the elections with a single motive of defeating BJP. Velingkar is credited as one of the main person behind BJP’s sustained rise in Goa and has a strong connect with the grassroots volunteers of the BJP and RSS that are crucial for mobilisation of saffron party voters. Velingkar fighting the election is a bad news for the ruling party also because his allegations of BJP going soft on non Hindus is making it difficult for the latter to reach out to non Hindus.
A longing for change
With the traditional parties being bogged down by failure to deliver on governance aspiration and credibility issue, Goa has shown a strong longing for change. The traditional parties have been captured by moneybags, dynasty politicians and criminals of different sort making the necessity for change still more urgent.
It is in this scenario that AAP, declaring a career bureaucrat who is well respected in local circles, its CM candidate and making people without famous family names and money its candidate, has infused a breath of fresh air in the politics of Goa.
AAP’s energetic campaign has not been lost on voters
Goa has a small voter base of 12 lakh and a very silent kind of politics that most Indian voters would find strange. The contact between parties and people is much more intimate. While AAP has accelerated its inimitable style of campaign, it has also infused Goa with adding innovations such as high visibility at important junctions through songs and dance and other buzz campaigns.
Many Goans have started looking favourably towards AAP as a reward for what they term as “AAP’s hard work”.
Still many in Goa are unconvinced that all the energy and vigour of AAP may be enough for Arvind Kejriwal-led party to overcome the money and muscle power that have long dominated the politics of this coastal state.
(The views expressed here are the author’s own and Janta Ka Reporter does not necessarily agree with them)