It's one of India's smallest states with just 40 seats but Goa elections 2017 has been fascinating. The polls have seen friends turn foes, alliances turn bitter and upstarts threatening to change the status quo. Here are top six takeaways from the results.
CONGRESS REVIVAL IN SPITE OF ITSELF
Think Goa Congress, think factionalism. Think Goa Congress, think corruption. Yet, India's grand old party has been able to win an impressive 18 seats, bringing some cheer to the beleaguered Indian National Congress. It's fallen short by three seats for a simple majority but should be able to form the next government with some help.
Think Goa Congress, think corruption.
However, until a few months ago, nobody would have bought that the Congress in Goa would see a revival. Reduced to just nine seats in 2012, many of it's leaders were hardly on the ground. In fact, though they were the second biggest party, the role of the Opposition was played by the individual spunk of Independent legislators. Such was the vacuum left by the Congress that the AAP felt it apt to snuggle into Goa's political landscape hoping they would become the choice of opposition, at least. However, other factors pushed Congress as most favoured party.
BJP #2: WEAK CM, TOP MINISTERS LOSE
Laxmikant Parsekar is a simple man. But the school teacher-turned-neta has not the slightest iota of charisma needed for higher office. The puny RSS leader would constantly be compared to former Chief Minister and current Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. And he failed miserably. Remember, how he kept turning to Narendra Modi during a rally in Goa, his hands folded, almost like he was hoping the PM would acknowledge his presence? Not only did the Chief Minister lose his seat but so did 4 BJP ministers running for office. The biggest embarrassment was for Forest Minister and senior RSS leader Rajendra Arlekar - the man who backed the "coconut-is-not-a-tree" policy - who was vanquished on expected lines.
PARRIKAR'S 'CHRISTIAN VOTE' WIPED CLEAN
In 2012, the BJP went to town for having won the Christian vote in South Goa. And Parrikar was rightly credited for a feat which helped BJP become a party accepted not just by Hindus. But this time, barring a few constituencies, the BJP has not been able to hold on to any seat in the South.
The debacle comes despite the fact that the BJP and the local RSS faction waged a long and bitter war over the Medium of Instruction in schools issue. The RSS faction targeted the BJP and especially Parrikar for backtracking on their 2012 election promise to stop giving government grants to English-medium schools. BJP's move was seen to be 'pro-Christian'. Yet, they lost their vote.
AAP: NATIONAL AMBITIONS HIT
Arvind Kejriwal's national ambitions have been badly hit. His Aam Aadmi Party could not win a single of the 39 seats they contested. For over 6 months, senior AAP leaders have been stationed in Panaji, getting their act together. Kejriwal himself visited the sunshine state several times trying to convince the people that they were the "clean choice". Being grandiose is one thing. But AAP was openly stating that if they did not get a majority, they would sit in the opposition. Well, as of now and for the next 5 years, they will continue to remain political aspirants only.
GOA FORWARD: THINK REGIONAL
It's not for no reason Vijai Sardesai is believed to be "CM Material" for the future. Sardesai single-handedly started the Goa Forward Party insisting his was the only party which was genuinely regional and without any remote control in Delhi. The Congress assured him of an alliance but left him in the lurch at the last moment. Sardesai stood his ground and went alone. The results are there to see. Three seats in his kitty and he could possibly play kingmaker now.
RSS FACTION FAILS
When Subhash Velingkar's rallies gathered "thousands" of RSS cadres who were apparently miffed with the BJP, it was an open challenge to the political arm of the Sangh Parivar. The senior RSS leader was the face of the Medium of Instruction movement. His own party he hoped would split the Hindu votes and hurt the BJP. And that probably is what happened. Velingkar's party's debut elections has been a total disaster.
(The writer is a political commentator and was the former bureau chief of NDTV 24X7)
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