Besides political biggies BJP and Congress, a clutch of regional parties are also testing electoral waters in Goa and hoping for a post-poll role with one of them even announcing its Chief Ministerial candidate.
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), contesting on 18 of the 40 Assembly seats, is the most prominent and formidable regional outfit in the coastal state.
After partying ways with BJP, MGP has cobbled an alliance with fellow regional outfit Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and Maharashtra-headquartered Shiv Sena.
Former Minister Sudin Dhavalikar of MGP, the oldest regional outfit in Goa, has been projected as the Chief Ministerial face of this alliance, which is seeking to make its presence felt in the February 4 Assembly polls.
Dhavalikar, contesting from Madkai, said his party represents the regional aspirations in Goa politics.
“MGP represents the regional parties and forces. For 18 years after Goa’s liberation (in 1961), MGP was in power.
Even when it was out of power, MGP continued to have representation in the Goa Assembly,” Dhavalikar told PTI.
In the past, MGP has allied with both Congress and BJP – which are ideologically different – thus displaying realpolitik and deft manoeuvring in its bid to come to power.
Between 2007-2012, the party was part of the Congress -led ruling alliance. It then switched sides and joined the BJP-headed Government in 2012, but the two parties had a bitter fallout a few months ago and they are now facing each other in the election ring.
GSM, launched by rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar last year, is the newest regional outfit in the State and it is being keenly watched by political observers. Velingkar, a regional language crusader, has publicly announced his party’s aim is to oust BJP from power.
GSM is the political arm of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), an organisation which has been agitating for making only regional languages as as medium of instruction in State s elementary education.
The Velingkar-led party has fielded six candidates, while Shiv Sena is contesting on four seats. .