Future looks bleak for BJP in Goa

Future looks bleak for BJP in Goa

Just a few months ago, the BJP appeared set for another five years in the ruling seat in Goa. That seems to have changed now.

A resurgent Opposition, parting of ways with its former ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and a bitter spat with the breakaway RSS Goa faction have darkened the BJP’s electoral prospects considerably.

In 2012, the BJP had contested 35 seats in a tie-up with the MGP (BJP 28 and MGP 7). The saffron party emerged triumphant, getting a majority (21 seats in the 40-member House) for the first time on its own. The MGP managed three seats. The Congress, stung by the taint of corruption, had been reduced to a mere nine.

On Friday, the MGP released a list of 17 candidates. The party has also tied up with the Shiv Sena and the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), the political outfit floated by Goa RSS Prant chief Subhash Velingkar and his supporters who broke away from the RSS.

This alignment of counter saffron forces, expected to contest more than 25 of the 40 seats, would hurt the BJP in at least a dozen seats.

With a total electorate of just over 11 lakh, constituencies in Goa have a small voter base, and 1,000 votes and less often tilts the scales either way. The largest constituency Vasco has just over 35,000 voters and the smallest, St Andre, has 20, 834.

Spurred by recent intelligence reports and ground surveys that have picked up an anti-incumbency undercurrent, the Congress has been trying hard to cobble together a grand alliance to keep the “secular” vote together.

Congress sources said on Friday that the party was likely to give two seats to the United Goans Party (UGP), only recently formed by ex-MLA Babush Monserrate. Talks are also on with Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward, which is expected to get three seats in a tie-up arrangement with the Congress.

The sticking point so far has been on taking the NCP on board the alliance because of its insistence on fielding former Congress minister Churchill Alemao from Benaulim. Alemao, who left the Congress when denied the Lok Sabha ticket in 2014, has now joined the NCP.

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