With less than six-months for the state assembly election, Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) will formally begin its poll campaign from Saturday. The formal campaign ‘Vijay Sankalp Rally’ will be flagged-off by Union Defence Minister and senior party leader Manohar Parrikar from Curchorem and will pan out across 40 constituencies in the coming months.
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Unlike the 2012 election – in which BJP, then in opposition, had capitalised on the anti-incumbency, mining-irregularities, corruption and rebel candidature of the Congress-NCP government, alongside it’s pre-poll populist assurances and support extended from the local Catholic community that helped BJP to come to power in the state.
However, close to five-years in power – the political scenario in the state has substantially changed, BJP is finding itself under scrutiny from various sections for its failure to deliver on its promises that were key in the run-up for its 2012 election campaign.
Issues such as Special status to Goa (under article 371), support and financial assistance only to primary educational institution with Medium of Instructions in regional language, removal of off-shore casino’s, finalising on new Regional Plan (RP) has not evoked any interest of the ruling party – whereas rollback of 15 percent of Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and delay in the appointment of state Lokayukta has not gone down well with the people and might affect the voter sentiments.
Compared to its predecessors government, the BJP commands a favourable opinion for delivering stable administration and only few of its ministers are facing allegation of corruption. Besides the introduction of doles such as Ladli Lakshmi scheme, Griha Adhaar scheme, disability pension and family insurance schemes and so on, will secure BJP – as a single party, a better margin of votes than the others.
While, the party is yet to announce its candidates for the 2017 polls, it is likely to go ahead with it present ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) with a seat sharing formulae of 28:10 which is currently under negotiation. MGP will not only be an aid in securing pro-Marathi voters from drifting to (former RSS leader) Subhash Velingkar’s Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and Shiv Sena alliance, but also to secure vote-bank in the mining belts of Bicholim (North Goa), and South Goa areas of Sanguem and Quepem where BJP might face backlash from voters in the area for loss of employment, negligence and bringing uncertainty to the mining sector.
The principal opposition Goa Pradesh Congress Commitee (GPCC) has fallen short of playing an effective role against BJP and internal friction among the party workers and ‘ticket’ aspirants has further dented its public image. Furthermore, the public announcement of atleast two incumbent Congress legislators to contest on BJP’s ticket in 2017 polls – has caused a embarassment to the party while giving a shot in its arm for the ruling party. BJP spokesperson Kiran Kandolkar had recently announced that three-more Congress leaders are in the pipeline to be inducted into the party.
Although Aam Admi Party (AAP) has reaffirmed its decision to contest election by announcing list of 21 candidates so far, the party is unlikely to create any impact on the BJP electoral pockets – but it might hurt the prospectus of Congress or recently floated regional Goa Forward Party (GF) by attracting their voters.
In a state with over 27 percent of Catholic population, the BJP managed to gain the community’s confidence in 2012 and even allotted atleast six-tickets to community members. But in the recent past the local media reported Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao raising questions on intolerance, communal polarization in the state and the country under the present government’s. Untill now, the local community leaders are yet to express any sentiment reflecting their allegiance during the upcoming polls.
While at the rate of 35.53 percent vote BJP(21)-MGP(3) lead the election in 2012, this time owing to the internal split (Velingkar’s BBSM/GSM) and the emergence of regional GF and AAP – while the BJP may emerge as a single largest party – it may lose atleast two of its seats owing to anti-incumbency of MLA’s and both its vote share and number of seats in the assembly poll may be affected.
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