From beach shacks to polling booths

From beach shacks to polling booths
Action in Goa, the land of sea, sand and sun, will move from beach shacks to polling booths on Saturday as 11.10 lakh voters get to exercise their franchise to choose the next government. The election campaign has seen 251 candidates vying for the 40 legislative Assembly seats. With four major national parties, eight regional parties as well as independents in the fray, the choice before the voters doesn’t appear to be a straightforward one.

With typical bravado, major political players have claimed their parties would win a majority. But away from the probing boom mikes and dictaphones, their spokespersons and senior leaders concede that the multi-corner contest may throw surprises and the key would be to emerge as the single largest party for starters. “There is a confidence crisis among the voters. And the multiple choices available for them may just result in a fractured mandate. Our brief is to emerge as the single largest party and then leverage the advantage from there,” a senior BJP leader told DH.

On record, the BJP, which is contesting 36 seats, had expressed confidence of winning 26 seats. But after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cue at a poll rally last week, it is two-thirds majority that the party says it is vying for. “We are confident of a two-thirds majority. We have delivered as a government. The people will not forget that,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told a press conference on Thursday. The Congress, which is contesting 37 seats, also says it is confident of winning the polls on its own.

Dictatorial interference
“The performance of the BJP government is before the people and so is the shambles of governance its leaders have delivered. The accounts of corruption, the unpopular policies, the dictatorial interference by Parrikar is all in the open. We are confident they will vote for the Congress and its policy of inclusive governance,” All India Congress Committee secretary Girish Chodankar told DH.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (contesting 25 seats), Goa Suraksha Manch (5) and the Shiv Sena (3) form an electoral troika which cannot be ignored, especially because of its focus on the Hindu vote. Its convener, former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, claims the BJP’s failed policies and a rebellion against the saffron party by the state RSS unit would serve as a death knell for the ruling party.
“The BJP is doomed. Our alliance will form the next government,” he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party which is contesting 39 seats is banking on an innovative campaign and the image of its chief ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes, a former bureaucrat, for a win. “We are looking at 26 seats. The people of Goa are tired of corruption and we offer the only viable alternative,” Gomes told DH.
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