The formation of yet another BJP government in the small but demographically critical state of Goa is almost certain. Trends of vote counting suggest that the BJP is leading in 18 out of 40 seats. The majority mark in Goa is 21.
The BJP is in a position to easily form the government by inducting independent candidates into the party. The victory margin of the party ruling for the past two terms in some seats is not even 500 votes. This clearly indicates that the anti-BJP votes were divided among the opposition parties, which directly benefited the BJP.
This will be the first time in Goa that BJP will hit a hat-trick of victory. In 2012 and 2017, the party formed the government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar. This time, there were speculations that without the late Parrikar, it would be difficult for the BJP to form the government, but the party performed better than what it had done in 2017.
How Trinamool, AAP benefited BJP
Mamata Banerjee fought the election in alliance with the MGP. Arvind Kejriwal fielded his candidates on 39 out of 40 seats. Both these parties dented the INC vote, giving the BJP an edge. Senior journalist Kishor Naik Gaonkar says, seeing the results, “It is clear that the anti-BJP voters were divided between the opposition parties. Had the opposition parties fought unitedly, it could have become a challenge for the BJP.”
BJP strengthened, rather than weakened, by INC MLAs
MLAs who came from Goa Congress in the BJP did not weaken the party but strengthened it. In 2017, the INC had won 17 MLAs and BJP had 13 MLAs. However, BJP formed the government by allying with smaller parties. Gradually, the winning MLAs of the INC joined the BJP and, before the election, the INC was left with only 2 MLAs. Most had joined the BJP.
Sandesh Prabhudesai, a senior journalist from Goa, says that this time in Goa, a “BJP version of Goa Congress” had contested in the state election. “Now with the return of these leaders to power, the business of land will grow rapidly, because more than 80% of the leaders of Goa are associated with the business of land,” the journalist remarked.
“The Mopa International Airport under development in Goa is getting wide publicity, but the truth is that the politicians have bought the entire land around it,” Prabhudesai said.
“Now they will develop the lands and become millionaires. Land prices in Goa are skyrocketing due to the inflow of external investments. It has become very difficult for Goans to buy land. Businessmen from Delhi and Mumbai are coming here and investing,” the journalist said.
This was the party’s first election in Goa post-Parrikar. “Many BJP leaders had revolted against Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. Now the chief minister is sure to gain strength from this victory. He will be stronger than ever. Those who were heckling him may be on their way out of the cabinet. Also, now they will be able to take forward all the projects of the union government with more strength in Goa,” the journalist said.
Goa has an interesting association with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002, when speculations were rife that the BJP leadership would ask him to step down, it was in that the party’s national executive threw its weight behind him.
Again, before the Lok Sabha election in 2014, a meeting was held in Goa in 2013, where Modi was elected as the chief electoral campaigner of the BJP.
Record hat-trick by BJP
This is the first time in the history of Goa that BJP has come to power for the third time in a row. Under the leadership of Parrikar, the party had formed the government in Goa for the first time in 2000 and it remained in power for 4 years and 101 days.
Then BJP formed the government in 2012 and 2017 — again under the leadership of Parrikar. The Goa election of this year was the first time that the BJP was in the fray without Parrikar. His son’s rebellion posed a threat to the party but did not benefit the opposition as the contenders of power had expected.
Who is ahead in the hot seat, who is trailing
Seat 1: Panaji
BJP candidate: Atanasio Monserrate (Won)
INC candidate: Elvis Gomes
Independent candidate: Utpal Parrikar
Elections so far: Panaji, the capital of Goa, has been occupied by the BJP for the last 28 years.
Late BJP leader Parrikar had won from here continuously from 1994 to 2017. Even after his passing, the BJP has retained the seat.
Why the seat is important: It is only through Panaji that the party can carry forward the legacy of Parrikar. Had the BJP lost Panaji, it would have sent a negative message to the whole country.
Hot Seat 2: Mandrem
MGP Candidate: Jeet Vinayak Arolkar (Won)
BJP candidate: Dayanand Raghunath Sopte
INC candidate: Satish Sitaram Shetgaonkar
Independent candidate: Laxmikant Parsekar
Elections till date: From 1963 to 1989, this seat has been a stronghold of Goa’s regional party MGP. The INC won here in 1994, but in 1999, MGP made a comeback. Between 2002 and 2012, BJP won from here thrice. In 2017, the INC made a comeback, but in 2019, the seat again went to the BJP.
Why the seat is important: BJP did not nominate Laxmikant Parsekar for this seat. He was a senior leader of BJP and was also the CM of Goa from 2014 to 2017. In his place, the party had nominated Satish Shetgaonkar from the INC.
Hot Seat 3: Sanquelim
BJP candidate: Pramod Sawant (Won)
INC candidate: Dharmesh Sangalani
MGP candidate: Mahadev Khandekar
Elections so far: BJP won this seat in North Goa in 2012 and 2017. Both the times Pramod Sawant was the candidate, who is also the CM of the state. In 2017, he defeated Dharmesh Sangalani of INC by a margin of 2,131 votes.
Why the seat is important: With Chief Minister Sawant fighting from here, this seat became important for the party. He has won from here twice in the past as well. In this seat, there is a very close fight between Chief Minister Sawant and Dharmesh Sangalani of the INC.
Hot Seat 4: Margao
INC candidate: Digambar Kamat (leading)
BJP candidate: Manohar Babu Ajgaonkar
Trinamool Congress candidate: Mahesh Amonkar
Elections till now: INC candidate Digambar Kamat has been winning election from this seat for the last 6 times. However, he won three times on BJP tickets and three times on Congress tickets. That is, since 1994, both BJP and INC have won this seat an equal number of times.
Why the seat is important: Digambar Kamat is the biggest face of Goa Congress for the post of chief minister. He is also the leader of the opposition. If he had lost, the INC would have suffered a major setback. Now Kamat’s victory is almost certain.
Hot Seat 5: Santa Cruz
BJP candidate: Antonio Fernandes (leading)
AAP Candidate: Amit Palekar
Trinamool Congress candidate: Victor Gonsalves
INC candidate: Rodolphe Louis Fernandes
Elections till now: Till 2012, the INC has been winning this seat as an independent and sometimes, but in 2017 for the first time, BJP captured here.
Why the seat is important: Amit Palekar, the chief ministerial candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party, is in the fray from here. The challenge is for the BJP to repeat its 2017 victory. The INC has also campaigned hard here as the party has an old vote bank in the constituency.