September 29, 2021 11:47:47 am
On the occasion of World Tourism Day on Tuesday, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant took a potshot at political parties from other states entering the poll arena in Goa. “Political tourism is expected to pick up in Goa in the next six months. I hope the tourism industry also benefits from this. We welcome all kinds of tourism in the state,” Sawant said.
His comments come at a time when the poll-bound state is a bubble with political movement. The contest for the 40 legislative Assembly seats, slated for early next year, appears to be getting crowded with several political and civil society groups stepping in with alternatives to the ruling BJP.
Apart from the BJP, Congress and regional players like Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the AAP and the TMC — parties led by the chief ministers of Delhi and West Bengal, respectively — have also thrown their hats into the ring.
Goa Assembly elections: Why has the TMC’s decision to contest caused a flutter?
The TMC, which had in 2012 failed to win a single seat in Goa, has announced that this time, it is going to be “very serious”. It has brought on board Goa’s former CM Luizinho Faleiro, a Congress veteran of 40 years.
— Luizinho Faleiro (@luizinhofaleiro) September 27, 2021
That Faleiro resigned as the MLA of Navelim in South Goa, with only five months left for the term of the present Assembly, is an indicator that he perhaps had bigger plans with the TMC. While Faleiro is undecided on contesting the Assembly polls, he said he will “lead a movement” to bring a “new dawn” in the state.
I-PAC, which has been sniffing the ground in Goa for around three months, may have picked up more than just the scent of Faleiro, who is set to be inducted into the TMC in Kolkata on Wednesday along with about a dozen other local leaders from the Congress and other parties.
Sources said the TMC has also been in talks with leaders from the BJP and civil society, and plans to contest all 40 seats in the state.
How has the Congress reacted to TMC’s entry in the Goa election fray?
The Congress, which was down to four MLAs in the Goa Assembly after Faleiro’s resignation this week, said the TMC’s intention to contest the election was not clear, and seemed quite unlike the party’s approach.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said on Tuesday, “I do not know the real reason or intention of the TMC coming to Goa. The timing, approach… a lot of questions still have to be answered. What are they coming here to do, who are they coming here to help, their agenda still has to be revealed.
“Nobody comes three or four months before the election. The leader of the TMC has her own respectability and we all have admiration for her, but this model that is being implemented in Goa doesn’t seem to be a TMC model. This seems more like the Modi-Amit Shah model. I am still confused about the true agenda and intention of the TMC,” Rao added.
He also called Faleiro’s exit a “blessing in disguise”.
How is the Congress placed in Goa?
On Tuesday, Faleiro recounted how he had planned to stake claim to form the government after the 2017 polls, after the Congress won 21 seats in the Assembly. He said the then Congress Goa desk in-charge had asked him not to do so, and the BJP, which tied up with GFP, MGP and Independents, formed the government.
Two years later, in 2019, the party’s strength in the Assembly came down from 15 to five after 10 MLAs defected to the BJP. The Congress’s disqualification petition against the defectors is pending before the High Court of Bombay at Goa.
Now, in the last couple of months, the party has inducted several leaders, including bureaucrat-turned-politician Elvis Gomes, former AAP convenor in Goa, and former East Bengal footballer Alvito D’Cunha, who had supported the TMC’s election campaign in West Bengal ahead of Assembly polls in May.
On Wednesday, the Congress also inducted former independent MLA Avertano Furtado, who served as a minister in late CM Manohar Parrikar’s cabinet in 2012. Furtado was elected from the Navelim constituency in 2012, the seat now vacated by Faleiro.
Goa Forward Party, an estranged BJP ally with three MLAs, and the National Congress Party, with one, have been awaiting the Congress’s response to a pre-poll alliance.
The party is now down to four MLAs, three of whom are ex-CMs of Goa. The senior-most Congress MLA Pratapsingh Rane, Ravi Naik and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Digambar Kamat are ex-CMs. Rane is the father of Vishwajit Rane, a BJP MLA and Health Minister in the Pramod Sawant cabinet.
Will TMC split the opposition votes in Goa?
Before the TMC’s formal announcement to contest the Goa polls, the AAP was expected to eat into the Congress’s votes. The AAP has been aggressively launching programmes to keep Goan voters engaged, and Arvind Kejriwal, on his visits over the last three months, has promised free electricity up to 300 units a month, a law for 80 per cent reservation for locals in private jobs, and an employment allowance for the tourism and mining sectors. Kejriwal and MGP MLA Ramkrishna alias Sundin Dhavalikar have held discussions, but have made no formal announcements.
Goa Forward Party has repeatedly called for a “united opposition” against the BJP, but with the Congress keeping it hanging, it has taken off with visits to various constituencies on its own.
Additionally, civil society group turned political party Goencho Avaaz and Mining Dependents Forum (MDF) may all be in the race to garner votes against the BJP. Revolutionary Goans, a political outfit of Goan youth, is also awaiting registration as a party to contest the upcoming elections.
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