Goa poll agenda: State’s slide to economic decay, social chaos
Goa poll agenda: State’s slide to economic decay, social chaos
BJP pojects growth oriented, clean governance
Electioneering reaches a feverish pitch
By V Shanmuganathan
Voters of Goa are preparing themselves to elect their forty colorful bunch of candidates to the Assembly on March 3, 2012. Goa people, owing to their high percentage of literacy are a politically conscious lot, compared to the other states of India. However, there has been a general disillusionment amongst the people regarding the honesty and sincerity of the politicians. Many Goans feel that better improvement and development of the State can be ensured with more involvement of dedicated people in the politics of Goa.
The battlefield is mixed with both known old faces and people who are fresh and new to politics. BJP has entered into an alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as an electoral strategy to avoid the split in the anti-Congress vote. BJP is contesting in 31 constituencies, MGP in 8 and one independent is supported by both BJP as well as MGP. Congress party is fighting in 33 constituencies and remaining 7 are given to NCP.
Catholics constitute a substantial 26 per cent of the State’s population of 15 lakh. The Church has played a more than a religious role in the recent past. It was involved in mass agitations directly or indirectly. It directly participated in the protests to make the Konkani language as the official language of the State. Some Congress leaders wanted to create a rift between the two tall leaders of BJP namely North Goa MP Shripad Naik and Manohar Parrikar, leader of Opposition in the Assembly. Parrikar brushed aside the talk of rift in the party and said Shripad Naik is a senior leader of BJP. He has contributed much in building the party in the State. He will not do anything which weakens the party, he said.
Ruling Congress suffers from strong anti-incumbency factor. It is not able to answer the public anger on issues ranging from alleged multi crore illegal mining scam to the Regional Plan 2021 and the medium of instruction of schools across the State.
Goa has been reeling under a controversy of illegal mining in which ores worth several crores was sent across the border without paying royalty or tapped by violating environmental norms. Goa’s Chief Minister Digambar Kamath who has held the mining portfolio, has come under severe attack from both the BJP and his own party men over the scandal. While the Public Accounts Committee headed by BJP’s Manohar Parrikar, claimed the State suffered Rs 4,000 crore loss due to illegal mining.
After exposing Digambar Kamath led government on illegal mining front, Goa BJP has now woven its election campaign around the raging issue, promising people to save legal mines and providing them amenities in a transparent manner through revenue earned from iron ore in legal manner. Manohar Parrikar, BJP leader said that the Congress led government has failed to come to the rescue of the people living in the mining belt. BJP has aimed to spend a major portion of the amount earned from here in infrastructure creation of the mining belt.
There is widespread anti-Congress sentiment. It is very evident that Congress is in trouble. Issues such as illegal mining, deep rooted corruption, the controversial regional plan, medium of instruction, lack of development, infighting are likely to hit the Congress Party very hard.Recently several Catholic leaders have joined BJP. This is an indication of prevailing atmosphere of hope and confidence.
Kamath’s much touted futuristic land use policy has become another tricky election issue. The Regional Plan 2021, which was meant to deliver planning and future road map to Goa, has been opposed by the BJP, his own party men and the Church. Kamath is even accused of selling out to the real estate lobby. It was also rejected by the civil society and several panchayats in the State.
The medium of instruction in Goa schools is the major issue confronting the Congress. The move that English, along with regional languages such as Konkani or Marathi should be permitted as the medium of instruction at the primary level for aided schools, had evoked sharp reactions among the public at large. The government, at present offers aid and grants only to schools in which Konkani or Marathi is used as medium of instruction.
Expectation of people
The politics in Goa is another representation of its cultural heritage and history. After the independence from Portugese colonisers in 1961, was mainly a period of peace and stability. Initially Goa was a union territory administered by the Centre. Then it was granted Statehood in 1987. The erstwhile areas of Daman and Diu are now a separate Union Territory. When Goa became independent in 1961, there were two main political parties in the State, namely Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the United Goans Democratic party. The former primarily based their electoral aspirations on the Hindus in the State while the latter was primarily based on the Christian electorate.
However, with the passage of time and the maturity in the political consciousness of the people, more national level political parties including Congress and BJP began entering the scene of Goa politics. Gradually people at the grass root level began understanding about the ideology of various political parties. Along with all round development of the country, BJP wants to preserve the national heritage and protect the national homeland without inhibiting the multiple expressions of regional, provincial and local concerns.
In the Assembly elections held in 2007, BJP fielded its candidates in 33 constituencies winning 14 of them. BJP had a vote share of 30.32 per cent, MGP has a vote share of 8.65 per cent. Congress had contested in 32 seats bagging 16 with a vote share of 32.25 per cent. The period between 1990 and 2005 saw a lot of unrest, with a quick succession of 14 governments in the narrow span of 15 years. It culminated in the imposition of President’s rule in the State. Though last government survived for five years but it became a most corrupt government. People expect a stable, honest government capable of delivering good administration.
Favourable climate for BJP
Goa BJP chief Lakshmikanth Parsekar said BJP has reached lakhs of voters during party’s Jan Sampark Abhiyan. According to him, people of Goa have greater faith in BJP and a favourable political climate is prevailing in Goa for the BJP to come to power.
I spoke to Shripad Naik, Manohar Parrikar, and Arti Mehra who is the prabhari of Goa. They all expressed uniformly about the favourable outcome of the election on March 3, 2012. There is widespread anti-Congress sentiment. It is very evident that Congress is in trouble. Issues such as illegal mining, deep rooted corruption, the controversial regional plan, medium of instruction, lack of development, infighting are likely to hit the Congress party very hard.
I spoke to some of the BJP candidates namely, Shri Francis D’Souza contesting from Mapusa, Shri Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar from Pedne, Shri Dayanand Rayu Mandrekar from Siolim, Shri Govind Parwatkar from Porvorim. They all felt that this time BJP is doing well. Fully prepared BJP is going to capitalise the prevailing anti-Congress sentiments.
Dr Pramod Pandurang Sawant contesting from Sakhali, Shri Dattaprasad Madhukar Naik from Taleigao gave a positive note of winning the majority of seats. BJP has done the basic work of mobilising the support of common people by Jan Sampark Abhiyan, house to house visit by all candidates. We are fully alert and active to give a successful final finishing touch, they said. Recently several Catholic leaders have joined BJP. This is an indication of prevailing atmosphere of hope and confidence.